Celebrating 75 years: Dayton-area residents share favorite memories of The Pine Club

As The Pine Club celebrates 75 years as an iconic dining staple in the Miami Valley, Dayton.com asked readers to share their favorite memories.

From a variety of milestones to eating first meals, The Pine Club has delivered the same service year after year.

🍴💚Robert Shepherd of Wilmington said his favorite memory at The Pine Club was eating his first steak after coming home from Vietnam. He said his “go to” meal is a medium rare filet with a great bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.

“(It’s) just a treat we can’t duplicate,” Shepherd said.

🍴💚Patricia Carstensen of West Chester, Pennsylvania said The Pine Club was her first meal in the U.S. in 1967.

“I haven’t been back, but (I) am planning a trip in October to walk down memory lane,” she said.

🍴💚Nick Spillson who formerly lived in Centerville said The Pine Club was a meeting place for him and his other NCR coworkers.

He said he now lives in Bradenton, Florida, but still considers The Pine Club his favorite steak restaurant.

“Though we now live in Florida, I frequently order the steaks shipped here,” Spillson said.

Credit: Dayton Daily News Archive

Credit: Dayton Daily News Archive

🍴💚Robert Keighley of St. Marys said he has been going to The Pine Club since the early 1980s.

“My wife and I would stop in for dinner every year after our annual Christmas shopping day in Cincinnati. We may not have been in for six months. The hostess would greet us by name, give a hug and ask how our shopping was.”

He said he comes back year after year because you always know exactly what you’re going to get.

“Congratulations on 75 years,” Keighley added.

🍴💚Karen Engelbert of Dayton said her favorite memory was “tasting roquefort dressing there for the first time and loving it ever since!”

🍴💚Mary Woodruff of Kettering said she always laughs because her bar bill is usually more than her meal, but she keeps coming back for the best steak.

“I always thought it was so nice that (former owner) Lloyd Meinzer would walk through the restaurant to make sure that customers were happy and satisfied. This was before it was the thing to do.”

Woodruff said her “go to” meal is a filet butterflied, baked potato, stewed tomatoes and a salad with blue cheese dressing and crumbled blue cheese.

“I have never had anything else in 50 years,” she added.

🍴💚David Burns, a Dayton native now residing in Louisville, Colorado, said, “In the 1950s, we used to stop for dinner at The Pine Club after the Dayton Horse Show at the fairgrounds. Then it became a place to celebrate family occasions and just enjoy a fine dinner there when the mood struck.”

He said when his mother was housebound for several weeks after an operation, the restaurant provided heated units to transport dinner home.

Burns said his “go to” meal is a filet medium rare, fried onions, tomato pudding and a loaded baked potato.

“You don’t mess with perfection,” he added.

🍴💚Alan Kletecka of Pickerington said he remembers his first time eating at The Pine Club in 1974.

“I had a great meal, went to pay my bill with my credit card and the waitress told me, “I’m sorry sir we don’t take credit cards.” I asked her where is the kitchen, I guess I will be doing dishes. She laughed and took my business card and said they will send me a bill.”

Kletecka said his “go to” meal is a bone in ribeye, sautéed onions and lyonnaise potatoes with a glass or two of a red wine.

“I have eaten at so many steak restaurants around the U.S. there is not one that can out do The Pine Club in any way,” he added.



Karen Watson, the vice president and general manager of The Pine Club, who has worked at the restaurant for nearly 44 years, said the stories she hears every night are endless.

“They all inspire me and remind me that this is really a special place,” Watson said.

Since 1947, The Pine Club has been serving mouth-watering filets garnished with onion rings and a classic side of stewed tomatoes. She also explained the restaurant has kept unique traditions such as not taking reservations, accepting credit cards or offering dessert.

Watson said people continue to come to The Pine Club year after year to not only order a great steak, but to get the same great service they remember from their previous trip.

The Pine Club, located at 1926 Brown Street, is open for dinner service from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

For more information about The Pine Club, visit www.thepineclub.com.

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