New owners of Oregon Express excited to enhance Dayton pizza tavern’s 40-year legacy

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

The Oregon Express in downtown Dayton has a new set of owners ready to carry on the 40-year legacy of the well-known pizza tavern.

Laura Zeller and her husband of 22 years, Brandon, officially signed the papers on Friday, Oct. 13 and their first day at the tavern was Monday, Oct. 16.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

“We’ve been looking at different businesses and kind of been open to different ideas for a couple years,” Laura said. “We’ve been researching what do we want to do? What do we want to invest in?”

The couple’s dream was to have a bar/restaurant with simple but classic food. They wanted to have a place that could host live music with a rooftop patio in downtown Dayton.

When they came across the listing for The Oregon Express, they knew “this was it. This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

Terry Adkins owned the pizza tavern with his brother-in-law, Joe Bavaro, since Sept. 16, 1983. Bavaro and his wife, Susan, had operated the pizza tavern on a day-to-day basis. Adkins was also involved even while serving as principal at Xenia’s St. Brigid School, where he retired in July.

“It’s been a great business. It’s still a great business,” Adkins previously said. “It’s just time for us to retire.”

The Zellers are originally from Troy but grew up visiting Dayton. The couple moved to Beavercreek 12 years ago to be closer to their jobs. Laura works in health insurance and Brandon is a contractor at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The couple does not plan to change the restaurant’s menu.

“(The previous owners) built a great business and we just want to take it and keep everything that is going well,” Laura said. “(We’ll) just add to it, enhance it.”

They plan to add additional beer taps, expand hours and bring back live music, which has been missing at The Oregon Express since the coronavirus pandemic. The new owners are passionate about live music and enjoy watching local shows and traveling for festivals and concerts.

Laura said they realize taking on The Oregon Express is a “big responsibility,” but the future looks promising.

“We’re lucky we found great people to work with,” she said.

The Oregon Express, located at 336 E. Fifth St., is open 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit or the pizza tavern’s Facebook page.

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