This weekend, I’m taking myself to see Jimmy’s Hall, a movie based on a true story of a charismatic Irishman’s conviction to bring culture to 1930s County Leitrim by reopening a meeting hall that was shut down by its outspoken critics.
While grazing my way through Dorothy Lane Market in Dayton the other day, I thought that a healthy dose of Emerald Isle Pub Spread would have helped Jimmy Gralton win over his opponents. This addictive light-green spread made with cream cheese, Irish cheddar, chives, onion, parsley and horseradish is the main reason why I include this terrific grocery store in every trip to or through Dayton.
The original Dorothy Lane Market opened on August 12, 1948, when Frank Sakada and Calvin Mayne sold $35 worth of fruits and vegetables at a stand they set up on the corner of Far Hills Avenue and Dorothy Lane in Dayton. In August 1953, the store moved a couple of blocks north to its present location at 2710 Far Hills Avenue in Oakwood. A second store in Dayton’s Washington Square Shopping Center opened in 1991. 2002 saw the opening of its third store in nearby Springboro.
In 1960, Sakada sold his interest in the store to Mayne, who continued to operate the store until his death in 1972. Then, Mayne’s wife, Vera, became president until she retired at age 100 in 2005. Vera’s “Good Neighbor Program” has contributed millions of dollars to local nonprofit organizations since 1955. Today, the Maynes’ descendants own and operate the gourmet supermarkets.
Dorothy Lane Market offers staples, but emphasizes natural foods, gourmet products and specialty items. Signature DLM grocery products include pure honey produced by a Miami Valley beekeeper; preserves produced by Cincinnati’s Clearbrook Farms; locally made salsa; and homemade caramel corn made with Indiana Pearl White corn. Items made especially for DLM include brightly colored, hand-painted artisan chocolates by Ghyslain Chocolatier in Indiana; apple butter made in Bucyrus using a family recipe; and jarred Bartlett pears and peaches from Holmes County.
While customers swarm around samples of the more than 100 specialty cheeses that DLM carries, kitchen crews prepare a rotating selection of hundreds of hot dinner items and cold entrees, mostly cooked from scratch. Heat-and-eat items like vegetable lasagna, three-cheese rigatoni and potato sausage frittata are sold by the pound. Storemade deli salads include chicken pecan salad, a lemon dill potato salad, and my favorite cherry, broccoli and cashew salad, which you can make at home with one of the free, tested recipes that DLM offers to customers. Return trips to Oxford were made much more palatable by stopping at the Springboro DLM to treat myself to one of the prepared-to-order specialty deli sandwiches and homemade soups of the day.
In the bakery area, you’ll find artisan breads, scratch-made croissants, fresh doughnuts and the salt-studded Bavarian bread pretzels we buy on every visit to DLM. Refrigerated cases are filled with specialty tortes, French pastries and Laura’s Cookies, decorated cut-out cookies with unique almond-flavored frosting that are available exclusively at DLM.
Those cases are also the home of DLM’s exclusive, best-selling Killer Brownies, rich multi-layer masterpieces that each weigh nearly one-third of a pound. From the Original Killer Brownie with gooey caramel and chopped pecans, to German chocolate, peanut butter and blondie varieties, thousands are sold weekly in stores. Killer Brownie trays and gift tins are also available online.
In 1995, Dorothy Lane Market traded advertising its specials in newspapers for Club DLM, a data-driven loyalty program that tracks individual customer spending habits, pinpoints the most profitable customers and offers them targeted incentives like customized coupons, price breaks on everyday staples, and perks to keep them coming back. Customer data has also influenced what the stores carry, how they can be designed to provide better service, and special features they can offer, from special events like cookouts and cooking classes at the Washington Square location’s culinary center. Unique homemade cakes for special occasions are available at Love Cakes by DLM, located behind the Washington Square location.