The local restaurant scene took off into the stratosphere in 2016 and appears poised to continue that trajectory through 2017, with several planned openings. Here’s just a small taste of what’s to come in the first part of 2017:
MELT BAR & GRILLED
Cleveland-based gourmet grilled-cheese restaurant chain Melt Bar & Grilled will open its first Dayton-area location at the Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek, probably sometime in June. The new 5,000-square-foot Melt will be built from the ground up near the main entrance to the mall. It will be the eighth restaurant for the 10-year-old Cleveland-based chain, which operates five restaurants in northeast Ohio and two in the Columbus area.
“We’re looking forward to serving the best gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches in the coolest environment that Dayton has ever seen,” Matt Fish, owner of Melt Bar & Grilled, said in a release. “We’re proud to have locations in Cleveland, Akron and Columbus and we can’t wait to get started in the Gem City.”
RAISING CANE’S CHICKEN FINGERS
Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers will enter the Dayton market in the coming months with at least two, and perhaps as many as four, new locations. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based chain’s Ohio franchisee has inked a deal to open at 1136 Miamisburg-Centerville Road (Ohio 725) in Washington Twp., in space that most recently housed the Golden Dragon Buffet & Grill, and, before that, a Ryan’s Steakhouse.
A second location is expected to follow along North Fairfield Road in Beavercreek. Plans call for the Ohio 725 location to open as early as June 2017, with the Beavercreek restaurant following. “We are still looking at other properties” to continue the chain’s expansion in the Dayton area, a spokeswoman for the chain said.
MIKE’S NASHVILLE HOT
Mike’s Nashville Hot opened its first Dayton-area restaurant in the Austin Landing development in November, and is gearing up to open a second location at 6230 Far Hills Ave. (Ohio 48) in the Shops of North Village retail center in Centerville. Mike’s is the brainchild of Centerville native and local restaurateur Mike Craddick, who told us said plans call for significantly expanding the brand’s footprint throughout a nine-county area surrounding Dayton, starting in 2017.
“We don’t have any signed leases yet, but we have a lot of lines in the water,” Craddick said. “We’re definitely looking in Beavercreek, we’re definitely looking at north of town.”
WAT DA PHO
A new, family-owned Vietnamese restaurant with a wink-wink, nudge-nudge name “Wat da Pho” is gearing up to open near the Mall at Fairfield Commons and Wright State University. The new restaurant is coming to 3464 Pentagon Blvd., in the retail center that also houses The Wharf and Eye Mart, and it is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team of Todd and Trish Dang, who will oversee Wat da Pho with the help of their family.
“I love to eat, and I love to cook, and I want to share that with others,” Trish Dang said. The 2,000-square-foot restaurant will serve a variety of Vietnamese specialties, including, of course, the traditional noodle soup called pho, along with sandwiches and rice dishes.
MOD Pizza will open its first Dayton-area location in the 9100 block of North Main Street (Ohio 48) in front of a Meijer store in early 2017, and will turn its attention to a second location in the Cornerstone of Centerville development. The Englewood location will share a 4,510-square-foot building with a Starbucks coffee shop.
“We are working on several more locations throughout Southern Ohio,” said Craig Hanson, a spokesman for the franchise group opening MOD Pizza locations in the Dayton and Cincinnati areas. “We expect to have 15 locations within the next few years in Ohio alone.”
Chick-fil-A will open not one, but TWO restaurants on the same day: Jan. 19, in the Town & Country Shopping Center in Kettering and on West Main Street near Meijer in Troy.
The 4,988-square-foot Kettering restaurant at East Stroop and Shroyer roads will seat 124 inside and will include drive-through service. It will employ at least 80, and perhaps as many as 100, according to franchise owner Matt Eller. The Troy restaurant is at 1910 W. Main St. (Ohio 41) at Experimental Farm/South Stanfield Road.
EL RANCHO GRANDE
El Rancho Grande is gearing up to open two new Dayton-area restaurants: one in a former Applebee’s in west Kettering that has been closed for three years, and one in a former LaRosa’s Pizza restaurant in Huber Heights that closed in the fall of 2016.
The Cincinnati-based Mexican restaurant chain has purchased the former Applebee’s property at 1450 W. Dorothy Lane near South Dixie Drive and will open a new restaurant there in early 2017, and has leased the former LaRosa’s at 7375 Old Troy Pike (Ohio 202) in Huber Heights to open a new restaurant there, also in early 2017. Plans call for shutting down the existing El Rancho Grande at 7500 Poe Avenue in Vandalia in conjunction with the opening of the Huber Heights location.