DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday for a new food hall that will house several restaurants in Dayton’s historic Wright-Dunbar district. The food hall represents not just a unique way for businesses to make money as restaurants pull out of the pandemic, but as a way to strengthen the community and further revitalize the neighborhood.

John Lumpkin is the Chair of the West Dayton Development Fund. He urges people to “Come out and support this, make sure this stays successful.”

The soon-to-open W. Social Tap & Table food hall will have a bar and coffee shop, and indoor and outdoor dining options. And seven local independent restaurants will call it home.

Jasmine Brown is the owner of De’lish. She says, “We all bring a really great big following, so I’m excited for that. For new customers to try all of the different types of food.”

The food hall will be adjacent to the National Aviation Heritage Historical Park and will bring much-needed food choices to West Dayton. The developers interviewed 30-35 food entrepreneurs to be a part of the project. Robert Gunn and his wife run Illys Fire Pizza, an 80s and 90s hip-hop-themed pizza shop. He says, “It’s opportunity, it’s creating jobs. We’re creating a different atmosphere, bringing some flavor to the city.”

The W. Social Tap & Table is funded through private investment and the city of Dayton’s West Dayton Development Trust Fund. The Dillon Corporation will develop the $2.1 million project. Owner Larry Dillon says, “The folks we have met along the way are folks that embraced us, and we embrace who they are.”

WATCH community leaders discuss how the new food hall will help the neighborhood:

City leaders expect it to drive momentum in the Wright-Dunbar district, which they call a gateway neighborhood to all of West Dayton.

Dayton City Commissioner Jeffrey Mims says, “Here’s what you can do when you have great partners, and you work together.”

The project has been two years in the making, and its scheduled opening this fall marks a significant success for the Wright-Dunbar district. Lumpkin says, “We hope this is just the beginning of many development projects.”

For years the West Dayton Development Fund and Wright-Dunbar Business District have worked to preserve the neighborhood and prime it for new projects. John Gower of the Wright-Dunbar Business District says, “Had this intervention not happened, today we’d be looking at a lot of vacant ground.”

The new food hall will be the first in the city, and an opportunity to encourage more people to build and develop. DPS Board of Education member Will Smith says, “Most importantly I see opportunities for Black and brown people. And I think that’s what I look forward to when I see the development of West Dayton.”

Seven restaurants will open, and many of them recognize the importance of building within their community. Gunn says, “Going into different business ventures, you don’t see a lot of people that look like me, look like my wife, brown and Black people. I think it will be an inspiration to a lot of kids.”

Brown, the owner of De’lish, was born and raised in Dayton, and chose to stay in Dayton. She says, “I always tell my children ‘if you live in the city you were born in, it is your obligation to give back.’ So essentially this is myself giving back to my community.”

Construction for the project is set to begin shortly, and the food hall is slated to open sometime this fall.