Cozy bar with big stories, small bites and a dollop of history is in the works in Dayton’s Huffman Historic district

Seely's Ditch, a new local pub at 1712 E. Third St., could open in about a year, founder Alex Smith says. CONTRIBUTED
Seely's Ditch, a new local pub at 1712 E. Third St., could open in about a year, founder Alex Smith says. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

The vision of an avid Dayton history lover is coming alive inside a former doughnut shop on East Third Street.

“Seely’s Ditch” will be a “a cozy bar with big stories, small bites, and an attention to detail of Dayton’s past,” according to the pub’s Facebook page. Its owner, 34-year-old Alex Smith, is a digital marketing manager with Kettering Health. He was born and raised in the Dayton area and has spent the last three years pouring his free time into the future pub.

Through his LLC, Smith has applied to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control for a full liquor license, although he said he anticipates the process to take up to a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Smith’s fiancé, Brittney Newcomer, will run the bar and beverage side of operations.

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The name Seely’s Ditch has deep roots — literally — in Dayton’s history and infrastructure. In a blog entry written in 2018 by Smith titled “Why Seely’s Ditch?”, Smith explains his decision for the name.

“Seely’s Ditch is in homage to Morris Seely’s canal project from 1830 that still impacts Dayton today, including the layout of streets, the storm sewer system, and even the new Warren Flats building in South Park,” Smith wrote. “To me the story of Morris Seely is a perfect tragedy. He came to Dayton looking to make his mark. He reached levels many would call a success; Ohio House Representative, Ohio Senator, and only the 8th Mayor of Dayton, but he would never live up to the expectations of his in-laws (the Huffman family).”

Though Seely’s Ditch is still developing its plans for its “small-bites” menu and alcohol offerings, Smith said the pub will serve local draft beer and “elevated” cocktails.

For years, Smith and his friend Tim Sommer operated the S&S Meat House food truck that was often parked outside of DK Effect, the arcade bar on East Third. Though the food truck has been dormant for about a year and a half, Smith has big barbecue plans with Sommer.

The pair plan to hold twice-a-month large barbecues on the Seely’s Ditch patio, especially in the summer.

In 2018, Smith bought the two-story commercial building at 1712 E. Third St. for about $20,000. The space previously housed Donuts by Thacker’s, which closed its doors in 2013.

Collecting historical Dayton memorabilia has been the beast of the project, though collecting pieces of Dayton’s past is Smith’s favorite pastime. For example, Smith has ten to 15 first-edition Paul Laurence Dunbar books he plans to incorporate into the pub.

Even the base of the back bar will be legs from a Davis Sewing Machine, which moved from New York to Dayton in the 1890s.

“I’ve got a lot of pride in our city,” Smith said. “To me, it’s really just the opportunity to contribute to the progress of the city.”

To monitor the progress of Seely’s Ditch, go to www.facebook.com/seelysditch.

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