With months to live, McNasty’s food truck owner is planning a goodbye party

Dick Bell has always welcomed people into his life.

He greeted friends and strangers at his tavern on Rip Rap Road for two decades and in recent years to his popular food truck.

Now it’s time to say goodbye, he says.

Credit: DAYTON DAILY NEWS / WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

Credit: DAYTON DAILY NEWS / WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

Bell, 77, who founded McNasty’s food truck with his wife, Cathy, has pancreatic cancer. He said he has only months to live.

“I’m planning a party. I want to socialize with old friends and acquaintances and customers from many years ago,” he said. “I love these people, and I feel their love back.”

A barn built in 1853 on Rip Rap Road caught Dick’s eye in 1976. He spent two years refurbishing it and in 1978 opened a tavern called McNasty’s, named after Filthy McNasty, a character in a 1940s film starring W.C. Fields.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

On opening night, Bell asked patrons to bring their own seats in exchange for a pitcher of beer. More than 85 complied and during the two decades the tavern was open “we never ran out of chairs,” he said.

Customers grappled with “Big SOBs,” sandwiches stuffed with a pound of meat. They tossed horseshoes and played on sand volleyball courts. McGuffey Lane and J.D. Crowe played live music.

Where the Rip Rap Road House is today, McNasty’s once hosted the annual “McLympics,” with teams competing in darts, basketball and badminton benefitting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Children’s Medical Center and other charities.

Credit: DAYTON DAILY NEWS / WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

Credit: DAYTON DAILY NEWS / WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

The couple closed the unheated barn each winter and used the time off to see the world, traveling to Africa, Brazil, Australia and Tahiti.

“I love these people and I feel their love back."

- Dick Bell, founder of McNasty's

Dick and Cathy married 27 years ago at Angel Falls in Venezuela. “I’ve traveled and had a really, really, wonderful life,” he said.

They gave up the tavern in 1996 and moved to Las Vegas, staying for more than a decade, but returned to the Miami Valley and turned a mobile mammogram bus into a food truck.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

McNasty’s has been a fixture on Courthouse Square since 2012 where Dick greets customers and serves up jokes to go along with Cathy’s burgers and homemade macaroni and cheese.

“I do as off-color as I can get,” he said. “I have a good time with it.”

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The couple will temporarily shutter the food truck at the end of the month and “take a break together,” Cathy said.

They are also making plans for Dick’s goodbye party.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

The plans aren’t firmed up, but it will be at the Rip Rap Road House where it all began. Details will be posted on the McNasty’s Facebook page when the date is determined, Dick said.

They are also making plans for the future of the McNasty’s food truck with Cathy at the helm.

“This is what I know and I’m happy with it,” Cathy said. “Spreading love through food, that’s my calling.”

Credit: DAYTON DAILY NEWS / WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

Credit: DAYTON DAILY NEWS / WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

Dick has been breaking the news of his prognosis to friends across the country.

“It’s been hard. It’s a very short conversation,” he said.

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But he hopes his sense of humor will be remembered.

“I enjoy making people laugh,” he said. “I’ve been ornery most of my life.”

The shirts they wear in the food truck have a saying: “If I’d known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.”

He also offers more serious advice.

“Do what you love and care about people,” he said. “Care about what’s happening around you in your city, your neighborhood and the community.”

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