In 1882, James Jacob Ritty opened the Pony House Restaurant. He
commissioned wood carvers from Barney and Smith Car Works to turn 5,400 pounds of Honduras
Mahogany into a bar. The fruit of their labors is the bar you now see standing in Jay's.
The building on South Jefferson Street that became Mr. Ritty's Pony
House Restaurant was previously a school of French and English for young ladies. You can
see a large picture of the school on the southeast wall of Jay's.
Dining, drinking, and gaming were the traditional fare of the Pony
House; however, legend has it that an even wider choice of vices was available. The
establishment had its share of well known visitors... Buffalo Bill Cody is said to have
ridden his horse right up to the bar. The notorious John Dillinger (who never robbed a
saloon) was one of the regular customers. Prize-fighters, such as Sullivan, Jeffries,
Corbett and Jack Dempsey, seemed to find the Pony House a favorite place to imbibe.
History tells us that "Jake" Ritty was the inventor of the
first cash register, and that ultimately his rights were sold to John Patterson... thus
leading to the establishment of the National Cash Register Company.
The saga of the Pony House continues, when in 1967, Mr. Ritty's
bar was about to fall prey to the wrecking ball. Mr. William H. Eicher of United Moving
& Storage, Inc. of Dayton preserved its heritage by photographing, removing, and
storing the famous bar, enabling it to be completely reassembled and again take its place
as the important piece of Dayton history that it will always be.
James Ritty called himself "Dealer in Pure Whiskies, Fine
Wines, and Cigars." He opened his first saloon in 1871, the Pony House in 1882, and
retired from the bar business in 1895. In those years, beer was a nickel a stein and
fifteen cents a bucket. A free lunch was open to all, consisting of boiled eggs, sardines,
blind robins, cold meats, pigs' feet, pickles, pretzels, crackers, and bread.
Jay's is, in effect, a continuation of Ritty's Pony House. The bar
saw service from 1882 until 1967, even through the Prohibition years. In those dry years,
Ritty's Pony House Saloon became the Pony House Stag Hotel, and the Pony House Restaurant
and Cafe. Being near the Railroad Depot, the astute Ritty provided a Sample Room, and the
Pony House became a favorite stopping place for salesmen who covered their territories by
The light fixtures here at Jay's are antiques, although the origin
is unknown. The railing comes from the Old Xenia Hotel and the back of our oyster bar is
from College Corner, Ohio. The plaque in the vestibule is from the original gates of the
Montgomery County Fair Grounds dated 1901.
During the period ranging into the late 1800's, Dayton was one of
the leading areas in the nation for flour milling. One of these mills, located on the
Miami Erie Canal, was known as the Joseph Kratochwill Dayton Corn and Grist Mill. The
building was constructed in the 1850's.
This mill, under Mr. Kratochwill's guidance, provided Dayton and the
Midwest with the excellent "snow flakes" and "new process" brands of
flour which became noted for their outstanding purity and fineness.
Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight you are dining in the former Dayton
Corn and Grist Mill...