Otto Daniels “Open Door Café”

Otto Daniels “Open Door Café”

(Photos Courtesy of The Rhea County Historical and Genealogical Society.)

Another Landmark from the Smith Crossroads Days

The Author of This Article Means No Disrespect In The Mention of Race

If you are one of the few people to remember Otto Daniel's "Open Door Cafe" down in the Goose Pasture, then I'm certain that you have some good memories. Otto's, as it was always called, is shown in the feature photos. The business was located in a building which was original to the Smith Crossroads days and faced the railroad track. This location was on the back of the property of the current day location of the Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Company.


According to some area residents (Betty Randolph, Jimmy Cunnyngham and George Arnold), they recall Otto being in business as early as 1950. Otto operated this business during the time of segregation, and although he was a man of color, his customers consisted of all races.

Famous for his great home cooking, Otto was always busy at the grill wearing his long well stained apron. The menu consisted of the usual items such as burgers and hotdogs. Although many customers had their special favorites which were his beef stew, pinto beans and cornbread.

Otto maintained a safe and friendly atmosphere in the restaurant at all times and never tolerated trouble from anyone. If you started any problems, he quickly asked you to leave and not return.

If you ever had the opportunity to eat there growing up then I'm sure this story brings back some good childhood memories. Otto operated the business until he retired sometime in the early 1970's

Sadly Otto Griffin Daniels passed away on Sunday June 18, 1978. He was laid to rest in the Pinecrest Cemetery in south Dayton. The building was eventually torn down to make way for the new gas company building.


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Published byDean

Born and raised in Dayton Tennessee, I have served in various public service positions in the past. I have a great interest in the History of our town. This site is a way for me to share some of the great history of the area.


  • Wanda Morgan

    June 13, 2022 at 12:30 am

    I never ate there but I do remember the smell of
    food while driving by. The kind of smell that makes you want
    a hamburger or hotdog.

  • Vikki Eakins

    June 13, 2022 at 10:53 pm

    I vaguely remember Ottos. My Daddy was a friend of his & I fondly remember him.

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