In addition to the grand prize winner, there were 10 runner-ups who each received $2,000.
Owner Bill Daniels said he’s sincerely humbled and honored. He originally opened the pizza shop at the corner of Salem Avenue and Catalpa Drive in 1986 with his friend, Glen Brailey. Shortly after opening in northwest Dayton, the owners started getting involved in the community by sponsoring their first little league team.
“We went down to the little league game and saw the kids in our Pizza Factory shirts, and I swear I felt like I was a major league baseball owner,” Daniels said. “It was such a good feeling. I didn’t really understand why every small business didn’t want to do things like that. Over time, we kind of figured out with pizza you can do a lot of things.”
Dayton’s Original Pizza Factory moved briefly to the old Canal Street Tavern for a year and a half before moving to its current location at 1101 Wayne Ave. in 1996.
From hosting tours for local students, offering half-price pizzas to local teachers, surprising those who decorate during the holiday season with free pizza to donating pizzas to various shelters and organizations, Dayton’s Original Pizza Factory has made its mark in Dayton.
“Pizza is a great food to share,” Daniels said. “When you get people together especially people that don’t know each other and you can use pizza as a magnet to draw people together. I think that interaction is what weaves the fabric of a strong community.”
Daniels recalled the moment “where I really started feeling like, “Wow, this has become more than what we ever imagined.””
He said the pizza shop started doing buy one, get one free pizza night to try to get customers to start ordering gourmet pizzas. He soon discovered the Monday night deal was prompting many customers to have a family night where they would turn off electronics and spend time with each other. The deal turned into Family/Neighborhood Pizza Night.
Daniels has used the sponsorship to make a donation to Sinclair Community College toward the endowment of a perpetual annual “Doughlarship” for a Dayton Public School graduate. He has also made a donation to Mission of Mary Cooperative, an urban farming nonprofit responsible for several community gardens.
“Whatever we do, it genuinely is a reflection of these other small businesses in Dayton and the things we’ve learned from them.” Daniels said. “You get to pick and choose what kind of business you want to be and we wanted to follow that example.”
Daniels hopes to inspire others to make a positive influence no matter their profession.
“You make that a part of your day and your job becomes a lot more gratifying and I think a lot more rewarding,” Daniels said.
Dayton’s Original Pizza Factory is open 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch Monday through Friday, 4 to 10 p.m. for dinner Monday through Thursday and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit www.pizzafactory.biz or call 937-224-4477.