BEST OF DAYTON: Owner of Jay’s Seafood continues father’s legacy after 47 years

Jay’s Seafood, located at 225 E. Sixth St. in Dayton, took home first place in Best Restaurant in the Oregon District and Best Seafood in our 2023 Best of Dayton contest.

Amy Haverstick, the owner of the restaurant, is continuing her father’s legacy 47 years after the restaurant’s start. Her father, Jay Haverstick, opened the restaurant in 1976 and operated it until he passed away in 2009.

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

“We were the first business down here,” Haverstick said. “Between these four walls there’s a lot of history.”

Jay’s is located in a former corn and grist mill that sat empty for several years before Jay and his family turned it into a restaurant. Haverstick was only 6 months old when the restaurant opened.

“I always knew what I wanted to do. I always loved the business,” Haverstick said. “One of the best things about running a business is people are coming here to enjoy themselves. We already have them at the start, all we have to do is keep them.”

When you walk into Jay’s, you will notice several nods to history throughout the building including flooring from the 1850s, light fixtures from the early 1900s, tables and chairs from the 1970s, railing from the Old Xenia Hotel after the tornado in 1978 and a bar that was once located at the Pony House Restaurant from 1882 to 1967.

Not only does the restaurant have longevity, the staff at Jay’s have been there from the beginning including: Chef Jeffery Robinson, who started in 1979; Chef Steve Brokamp, who started in 1984; and Bartender Bob Moats, who started in 1985.

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

Haverstick attributes the restaurant’s success in part to the experience she has in her kitchen. She also has a list of former servers with years of experience ready to step in when needed.

Jay’s is considered fine dining, but Haverstick said they are very casual too. Customer favorites include the Spiced Bourbon Salmon and Greek-Style Swordfish. Other popular entrees and appetizers include the Alaskan King Crab Legs, Twin Lobster Tails, Half Pound Kobe Burger, Calamari Strips and Scallops Andre.

Haverstick recently hired Chef Paul Bard who is working to create new dishes with different types of seafood. His work is displayed in weekly and monthly specials.

When Haverstick’s father opened the restaurant, seafood was not readily available unless it was frozen. She recalled seafood being flown from Boston to the Dayton International Airport for the restaurant. Jay’s seafood is now shipped with their other deliveries.

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

Haverstick worked alongside her father for seven years before he passed away. Her favorite memory working with her father was sitting down at the end of the night and having a glass of wine with him. They would talk about what happened and what they needed to do.

Now that both of her parents have passed away, Haverstick said she enjoys being part of the Jay’s Seafood family. As a hands-on owner, she said she admires the respect her staff gives.

“For me, it’s just continuing this legacy until I retire,” Haverstick said. “Then we figure out what happens from there.”

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