Dayton has a new breakfast and lunch café with a familiar face

BBA Café, located in the lower floor of the 6 N. Main St. building, had a soft opening at the beginning of this year, but will officially hold its grand opening on Wednesday, April 21.
BBA Café, located in the lower floor of the 6 N. Main St. building, had a soft opening at the beginning of this year, but will officially hold its grand opening on Wednesday, April 21.

Credit: Staff

Credit: Staff

Downtown Dayton has a new lunchtime hero for people on-the-go who still want a home-cooked meal.

BBA Café, located in the lower floor of the 6 N. Main St. building, had a soft opening at the beginning of this year, but will officially hold its grand opening on Wednesday, April 21. A ribbon cutting ceremony overseen by the Downtown Dayton Partnership will begin at 9:30 a.m.

An acronym for Baked By Anita, the café is owned by Anita Stephens, a Dayton native who attended the University of Cincinnati and has run a successful catering business since 2009. In fact, she has served breakfast and lunch to a number of Dayton and Cincinnati charter schools ― one of many being The Dayton Regional STEM School — and has also offered special events catering.

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A Cincinnati resident, Stephens has had the N. Main St. space since June 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic kept the business juggling daily changes in a variety of school breakfast and lunch schedules as well as grab-and-go meal programs for students learning at home.

For now, BBA Café is carryout only and is using a lot of its dining space for production and packaging of its school lunches. However, Stephens said the plan is to have 20 to 25 seats inside by the fall and eventually offer curbside pickup and delivery.

BBA Café is open Monday through Friday. Since the soft opening, the café has offered lunch service from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Starting on April 22, breakfast service will begin every weekday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. The café will close daily between breakfast and lunch. However, Stephens said passersby will still be able to grab a granola bar or a coffee if they would like during those in-between hours.

“We are incredibly excited because we are in the heart of Downtown Dayton for a reason,” Stephens said. “We are truly, truly about connecting with the community and … often with the catering company, we always had to go somewhere. But now we’ll be able to give back and serve the community (from the café). We’ll still go, but people will also be able to come to us and being in that location shines a brighter light on us so people will know who we are. We will definitely be able to engage in the activity a little better.”

Fulfilling the mission of giving back, Stephens plans to have some type of special promotion or small event every month. A bigger special event will happen quarterly.

“We need (customers) to understand we appreciate them,” she said. “We can’t do it without them.”

BBA Café employs a 14-member staff, including many now helping with both its catering clients and general operations. In particular, Patrick Matthews, the café’s executive chef, has an impressive resume in the food industry having served in the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion in Frankfort.

BBA Café owner Anita Stephens and executive chef Patrick Matthews.
BBA Café owner Anita Stephens and executive chef Patrick Matthews.

Credit: Staff

Credit: Staff

Stephens said BBA’s aim has always been to serve up “Real. Good. Food.” ― the café's motto — while keeping the menu affordable and homemade. Including almost everything served for breakfasts and lunches at the schools BBA serves, everything the café puts on the menu is fresh and made from scratch.

Customers can stop-in with only a little time to spare on their lunch break, spend as little as $4 and get a filling lunch.

The café's menu offers daily lunch specials like the “Hump Day Hog,” BBQ pulled pork sandwich with chips or coleslaw for $6, and “Thank You for Fryay!,” either a chili cheese fries platter for $5 or a café or turkey burger with spicy mustard, pickle, tomato and gouda with fresh-cut fries for $7.

According to Stephens, a fan favorite is the cafe’s chili spaghetti and cheese coney. Customers will find these items under the “Napkins Needed” section of the menu.

“I love Dayton,” Stephens said. “My family is still here, and because of my love for Dayton, I’m really excited to be able to give back to the place where I grew up and to do something for the economy.”

For more information on BBA Café, visit their website at bbacafe.com/.

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