Dan's Dogs

Piecing together 111 West Liberty's past is a task that involves much inspection and the connection of historical dots that unfortunately aren't clearly numbered. There are two differing paths the building may have embarked on during the prime of its conception. Both stories stem from reliable sources and it is unclear which one holds the discrepancies. Thankfully, there is a point in history where the two converge and we can be certain of the direction the owners then took. Up until this date in 1946, however, the timeline has blemishes. For the sake of caution, we'll explore all of the possible clues that may point to what exactly functioned in the building that Dan's Dogs now calls home.

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Going Beyond the Store Front

Going Beyond the Store Front

"Whenever I'm asked what the special for today is, I tell them: Everything here is special, everyday." –Steve Chylik, owner Dan's Dogs Dan's Dogs; such a simple, yet powerful name for the simple, yet monumental concept. A hot dog eatery that attracts people from miles away and all walks of life, Dan's Dogs is definitely the most successful and well-known business to thrive at 111 West Liberty Street. It is even arguably the most popular restaurant to ever grace Medina's Public Square with its presence. Just as the JamBar prospered from the combined work of a dedicated husband and wife, so too does Lot #144's current attraction center on a sturdy marriage. Named after the original owner, Dan's Dogs was undertaken by Steve and Kay Chylik after they had heard word that the popular eatery was going up for sale. Their decision to transition from the bar business to restaurants has proved to be a stellar financial victory, as business has more than doubled since the couple took over. On average, they sell over 7,000 hot dogs a month. Image Courtesy of LeeAnn Mullen View File Details Page

Dogs Worth Barking About

Dogs Worth Barking About

The secret behind Dan's Dogs appeal is a courage possessed by their cooks that no amateur hot dog constructor could dream of when standing next to the grill in their backyard. Their creative and crazy 38 combinations offer a welcomed change to the classic ketchup and mustard toppings. One need only to look at the "Deputy Dog", a classic hotdog nestled between Peanut Butter & Jelly, to admire the true bravery that exists in the Dan's kitchen. But Steve maintains that he has regular customers who've been coming to Dan's for years and have yet to try a hot dog. These are people who keep coming back for the great burgers, fries, and perfectly blended milkshakes. Image Courtesy of LeeAnn Mullen View File Details Page

Inside the Dog

Inside the Dog

The mood of Dan's Dogs is nostalgic and warm as the pink and turquoise interior is spotted with relics from the 1940s and 1950s. Each table is donned with a juke box and guests need only to spin around to catch glimpses of local and national collector's items from the fabulous 50's. An iconic dog that sits at the end of the milkshake counter is worth thousands of dollars, an investment Steve says is worth every penny. With noble priorities such as staying family-oriented, inexpensive, clean, and fair, Dan's Dogs is no doubt a tempting opportunity for any bright entrepreneur. Those with the ambition and skill to take over such a legendary eatery have finally gotten their chance at this local treasure. Steve and Kay have found they've had their fun and say it's now time for them to step away from the business and move on. As Dan's Dogs currently bears the infamous "For Sale" tag, we see now that the future of 111 West Liberty Street could perhaps be more unknown than its past. Image Courtesy of LeeAnn Mullen View File Details Page

World War II plays it's part

World War II plays it's part

While the deed for 111 West Liberty reads that Hugh "Jack" and his wife Katie Lanphear purchased the building on March 23, 1946, the JamBar was in fact operating before this date. In the year 1944, Jack Lanphear became one of the 16 million Americans serving their country in the Second World War. Left behind with the family, his wife Katie found herself alone and searching for some sort of stable income. She found this source in the opportunity offered by 111 West Liberty Street. Katie extended the rear of the former Hatch Dairy and soon opened the Medina Grill or JamBar. Mrs. Lanphear ran the restaurant by herself, but did not have enough finances to purchase the lot. She was forced to rent, save and hope, waiting for her husband to return home. Uncertain of the future, she risked total bankruptcy as she took on an entire business, along with her responsibilities in her home. During WWII, the noble Blue Star was displayed in the many windows of Medina homes, proudly showing that they housed a family member in the service. Patriotism spread in Medina just as it had throughout all of the United States. American women were all called to abandon any traditional roles they had been filling so they could enter into factories and help with the major production of war weaponry. Encouraged by icons like the bold Rosie the Riveter, women put down their aprons and picked up the slack for the rapidly growing economy. Rosie evidently had an effect on Katie, who started a restaurant that would go on to last for over 43 years. Image Courtesy of Robert Hyde View File Details Page

The JamBar

The JamBar

When Jack returned home to his wife and the JamBar's new demands, the couple worked to raise enough money to purchase the building. They achieved their goal on March 23, 1946. The building has stayed with descendants of the two ever since. The Lanphears lived in the original apartments above the JamBar until 1952, when they then moved and open up the valuable rooms for rent. Renovations that the Lanphears had made to Lot #144 included new fixtures, booths, lights and kitchen equipment. They added a new brick front to the building and continued to expand their pride and joy that amazingly had stemmed from a simple storage shed. Former customers describe the scene as a cool, dark and smoky bar that usually welcomed local city officials who stopped in to unwind after a long day's work. Although Ruth Vivian Lanphear Bracey and her daughter Kitty still own the rights to Lot #144, the JamBar served its last drink around the year 1987. If you can catch the right local on the street today, however, the name JamBar will spark that familiar look of fond remembrance. Even those who never knew Medina's long-standing tavern can easily experience a piece of its magic, as former paneling and part of the original counter still stand as a resting place for hundreds of Dan's Dogs milkshakes. Image Courtesy of Zach Dombi View File Details Page

A Shedz

A Shedz

When closely examining a historic map of Medina's Public Square, one can see that 111 West Liberty is located in the spot classified as "Lot #144". This insight becomes the stepping stone for our journey into 111 West Liberty Street's OTHER alternative history, one that is filled with determination, mystery, and Lot #144's desperate search for a committed owner. The list of deeds for Lot #144 is intimidating and extensive. The building changed hands over fifty times since the records first show in 1891. (A time in which the tax records show it to be nonexistent). Interestingly, Medina genealogical expert Robert Hyde contends that the building originated not as a building at all, but rather a small shed. Grantees received the shed as a bonus when they were buying the real attraction, which was the building directly next-door and east of Lot #144. Image Courtesy of Medina Public Records View File Details Page

1920's Restaurant

1920's Restaurant

Williams' Medina City Directory has a listing for a man named J.T. Ainsworth who owned a stove & plow shop. Mr. Hyde and Hallock both suppose he use the old shed as storage for extra equipment. The date of the directory is surprisingly 1859-1860, suggesting Lot #144 in fact existed before the famous fire of 1870. During the mid-1900s, construction men working outside the lot dug up a 50 gallon gas tank buried under the sidewalk. The glass cylinder suggests that the shed was not only a gas station, but also Medina's first, sometime during 1900-1904. The highlighted transaction was September of 1926, the date when a James M. Harrington bought the lot and converted it into a restaurant. He sold it to William E. Levet in 1928 and it was passed from Levet to Ulmer to Wildman, whose name also appears in the tax record story. The restaurant was followed by Hatch Dairy, which our sources remember vividly as a welcoming bakery that sold things such as milk and cheese. Again, Hatch Dairy only survived a limited time. Finally, the fog dissipates and all historians can agree that here marks the entrance of the JamBar. Image Courtesy of Medina Public Records View File Details Page

A Tax Record Tale

A Tax Record Tale

Medina tax records have placed the beginning of 111 West Liberty in the year 1900. The building was a financial maneuver made by the contractors Levet & Waters that soon included an addition of second-story apartments in the 1920s. The apartments were constructed to rent out to locals and provide a steady income for the lot owners. Records show that a man named Dan Steingass managed a meat market in the building while his brother owned it. There is also evidence that sometime in the 1930s a barber shop may have been run by the barber Clair Tooker. It is then certain that in 1930 Hatch Dairy stepped into the Levet Block and established itself. The store was a grocery and deli that attracted many with its low prices and high familiarity. Operating during the Great Depression, the small grocery most likely struggled to stay afloat while maintaining the quality demanded by the upper middle class society of Medina. Medina residents who describe the Great Depression often maintain that while the onset of the major recession was indeed crippling, job scarcity remained just as prevalent throughout the entire decade. This dark time in America's economy was arguably the toughest era for a small deli like Hatch's to be operating. As expected, the owners were unable to institute the store as a long-standing establishment in the town during such trying times. Sometime during World War II, Hatch Dairy made way for the square's third grill and tavern, the "JamBar". Image Courtesy of Medina County Recorder's Office View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Emily Morgan; Michael Firlotte; Zach Dombi; Mervin Chen, “Dan's Dogs,” Discover Medina, accessed July 21, 2017, http://discovermedina.org/items/show/14.

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