Lily's Bistro in the Oregon District is morping into Lily's Kitchen and Cocktail Bar. The restaurant will have a tiki-ish theme.
Photo: Lily's Bistro
Photo: Lily's Bistro

Dayton restaurant transforming into tropical oasis with new name, tiki theme and menu 

Lily’s Bistro to shut down beginning March 16 for renovations

A Dayton restaurant is about to put the lime in the coconut and shake everything up. 

Emily Mendenhall, the co-owner of Lily’s Bistro at 329 E. Fifth St. in Dayton’s Oregon District, said her family’s 7-year-old business is evolving into a “tiki-ish” themed eatery with mid-priced options on the menu.

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“We are going to drop the ‘bistro,’” Mendenhell said.

The new name will be Lily’s Kitchen and Cocktail Bar.

“It a big change,” she said. “I’ve been thinking tiki for at least three years.”

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The restaurant will be closed starting Monday, March 16, for a remodel that will include new paint, light fixtures, wallpaper and a plant scheme to be executed with the help of nearby Luna Gifts & Botanicals, 261 Wayne Ave. 

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The Mendenhalls hope to reopen Tuesday, March 24, with the new “kick back and relax” feel that builds off the restaurant’s successful monthly tiki nights. 

Patron favorites like deviled eggs, fried chicken and shrimp and grits from Lily’s New Orleans roots will remain a part of Lily’s menus.

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Mendendell said the goal is to serve food and drinks that fall in price between taverns like Lucky’s Taproom and Blind Bob’s Bar — the Mendenhalls other Oregon District business — and more upscale eateries like Salar Restaurant and Lounge and Jay’s Seafood and Wheat Penny. 

Lily's Bistro is shifting gears to focus on tiki on its cocktail and food menus. CONTRIBUTED

“I just feel like there is a little big of a no-mans land for the mid-price in Dayton,” she added. 

Jansen Troutman will be joined in the kitchen by Don Warfe, until recently the executive chef  at The Bison and The Boar in West Alexandria. They will serve as co-executive chefs. 

The restaurant currently employs 32 people in the front and back of the house. 

Mendenhall said four to six additional people will be needed. 

Appetizers will cost $4 to $10, and entrees will be $12 to $19.

Classic tiki drinks and tiki-inspired cocktails like the Tiki Old Fashioned made with Old Grand-Dad Bonded will be $6 to $8 each.  

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“We hope to expand the bar hours once the weather changes up,” Emily Mendenhall said. 

Mendenhall said she hopes to keep at least one beer on tap at all time that costs $2.50. 
Various “boozy slushies” like the planned strawberry, moonshine, fresh cucumber tart lemonade will be featured seasonally. 

“It will be pink and it will be pretty and it will be springtime,” Mendenhall said of that concoction.

The Oregon District Business Association has applied to make the East Fifth Street corridor from the Dayton Convention Center to Bainbridge Street a designated outdoor refreshment area.

“I can imagine people wanting  to get a strawberry slushy and walk around to the shops,” she said.

Mendenhall said the restaurant will continue to have Saturday and Sunday brunch and Sunday chicken dinner. 

The space will contain many tropical elements. 

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“It always about keeping thing fun and warm and welcoming,” Mendenhall said.  We just want to carry that through in the whole atmosphere and menu.”  

Both Emily and her mother, Lisa, are avid gardeners. 

It was Lily’s patio potential that first attracted the family to the restaurant’s building.

In warmer months, the  restaurants three patios —particularly  the largest in the rear —  are teeming  with plants.

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“We want to bring that outdoor element inside,” Mendenhall said.  “(It will be) something that kind of transports you into a different mindset and vibe,” Mendenhall said. 

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