New wine shop, bar to hold first event in downtown Dayton

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Joui, a new wine retail shop and bar, will hold its first event in downtown Dayton’s Fire Blocks District from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

In addition to offering patrons a first look at the space, the event has been established to support a good cause. All proceeds from the event will go toward Kirkmont Center, a nonprofit organization in Logan County near Bellefontaine. The Kirkmont Center, founded in 1963, is a camp and retreat center serving various groups, families, businesses and individuals.

For $45, guests will sample three wines along with a variety of snacks. Tickets can be purchased online.

Owner Lauren Gay said she decided to host this first event after working with local photographer and videographer Austin Shell.

“In lieu of taking payment because he is a bleeding heart and just such a beautiful person, he instead suggested we do some kind of fundraiser or donation for Kirkmont Center, which is a space that is near and dear to him,” Gay said.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

What to expect at Joui

Gay hopes to hold a soft opening for Joui following this first event in addition to a grand opening before the end of the month. If all goes well, the grand opening will occur before Thanksgiving.

Gay’s original concept was to simply open a wine retail shop downtown, something that has been missing since The Wine Gallery closed in 2018. She was looking for a spot about 900 to 1,000 square feet but ended up falling in love with a space double that size. With the extra room she added a bar and small bites to her plans.

Half the space will focus on retail, while the other half will be dedicated to on-site consumption. The bar will have wines by the glass rotating on a weekly basis in addition to a cocktail list. Small bites will include cheese, charcuterie, salad, sandwiches and dips. This will be more like a light lunch or afternoon snack rather than a full meal.

The retail sector is expected to feature bottles that are $20 and under in addition to more expensive wines. Gay said there will be a variety of styles including environmentally friendly and organic wines.

In addition, Joui will have a monthly wine club called “The Dose.” One dose is two bottles of wine and a double dose is four bottles of wine. Each month, it will be curated based on themes and include recommendations for food pairings, Gay said.

She also hopes to use the space, designed by David Kittredge and Ginger Roddick of The Idea Collective, for public and private events like dance parties, corporate happy hours or chef pop-up meals.

One aspect of the space I particularly loved is near the entrance. Guests can write on the cork of their wine bottle and deposit it into a case to forever remember their time spent at Joui.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Introducing Lauren Gay

Gay is a 2005 graduate of Northmont High School who fell in love with downtown Dayton after she got her driver’s license.

“I’d come here and hang out at Sidebar and drink coffee and go to what was Gem City Records,” Gay said. “I think I gained a greater appreciation for downtown when I left and moved away and came back.”

After graduating from Ohio State University, she served in the Peace Corps in Kenya working on economic development for youth. With intentions to pursue a career in music management, a move to Los Angeles would instead lead to a fruitful and adventurous career in wine. Gay honed her skills in the L.A. wine industry while working under the prestigious Nancy Silverton, co-owner of Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles and Newport Beach as well as Osteria Mozza, Mozza2Go and chi SPACCA in Los Angeles.

Since her start in L.A., Gay has worked with and managed award-winning wine programs in Las Vegas, San Francisco and several cities in Ohio.

She currently directs the wine program at Sueño, Tender Mercy and Dōzo in the Avant-Garde building at 607 E. Third St. in downtown Dayton. She previously served as general manager of Sueño.

“Moving back to be a part of Tender Mercy and Sueño and team up with the Idea Collective and see their passion for this area ignited that desire inside of me to contribute to my hometown,” Gay said. “Being able to do something like this and give back to my community in some small way — it’s really exciting.”

The name Joui, pronounced Joy, “comes from the French word jouissance meaning a feeling of physical and intellectual delight,” Gay said. She went on to say it “perfectly encompasses why I like wine so much.”

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Holiday Wine Show

Gay was hoping to host a Holiday Wine Show at Joui but due to timing it will be held at Tender Mercy from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12. Tickets are $65 and includes eight distributors pouring over 45 different wines as well as snacks.

The theme is “wines that are good for holiday meals,” Gay said. Pre-orders will be taken during the event and will be available for pick up by Saturday, Nov. 18. Tickets can be purchased online.

Joui is located at 117 E. Third St. next to Salt Block Biscuit Company. The space is dreamy with natural light, bright colors and a touch of ‘60s psychedelic. It is expected to be open noon to 9 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit or the establishment’s Instagram or Facebook pages.

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