The Pony House Restaurant and Bar
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 train.
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.
The Mills of Oregon
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...