Martha's Skin Care is being forced to leave Fountain Square shopping center

NEW DETAILS: Kettering shopping center owner says tenants told to leave for violations

A representative of a company that recently purchased a Kettering shopping center in a high-profile location said “the health and safety of shopping center patrons” was a factor in recent decisions to end leases with some businesses in the center.

>>PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Kettering business asked to leave shopping center after 25 years

Owners of two businesses featured in recent articles published by this news organization have disputed claims Heather Murphy-Zahora, the vice president of Fountain Square shopping center owner Miami Valley Commercial Group, issued through a third party representative in the following statement:

“As the new owner of the Fountain Square Shopping Center in Kettering, our company has an obligation to ensure the safety of all patrons of shops within the center. We also have an obligation to each of our tenants to treat them equally and fairly. 

Upon taking possession of Fountain Square at the end of March, representatives of our company did a walk-through of tenants’ stores to understand their respective customers, the nature of their individual businesses and their business needs. We were pleased to discover a group of responsible tenants and successful, well-run businesses. There were, however, tenants that failed to have basic and required business documentation, had safety violations, or otherwise failed to operate in accordance with their leases. In those situations, we terminated the lease or their right of possession. 

We understand that these tenants are unhappy with the terminations, but this is about basic compliance issues and, most importantly, the health and safety of shopping center patrons.”

The third party representative, who did not want to be identified, said Murphy-Zahora’s statement was in response to recent articles published by this news organization. 

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This news organization left a message on the business’ answering machine after receiving the statement to seek additional information. 

The shopping center is located at 3109 Far Hills Ave.

SHOP OWNERS, RECORDS DISPUTE VIOLATIONS CLAIMS 

Earlier this month, Elizabeth Wiley, the owner of Wheat Penny and Meadowlark restaurants, said she and her partners would not open their gourmet sandwich shop ScissorTail Sandwich Shop in Fountain Square shopping center partly because  Miami Valley Commercial Group expressed that it wanted to increase the cost of a space her company leased in the center. 

When asked about Murphy-Zahora’s earlier claims that there were health inspection related issues connected to Sagecraft — the catering company in the shopping center she and her business partners had wanted to turn into a sandwich shop — Wiley said the catering company was in compliance with health standards and had moved out of the space.

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Online restaurant-inspection records from Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County show no pattern of violations at Sagecraft.

The most recent visit by public health inspectors in April 2018 simply noted that the catering company had gone out of business. 

In November 2017, an inspector recommended that broken tiles adjacent to a three-compartment sink should be repaired. Earlier inspections in April 2017 noted that renovations were underway and found no violations in facilities or food-holding temperatures. “Overall satisfactory,” the inspector wrote.

Martha's Skin Care is closing after its lease was not renewed.
Photo: Photo: Amelia Robinson

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Dr. Carol Ryan, the owner of Martha’s Skin Care in the shopping center, said her company never had any issues related to health or safety. 

This news organization contacted the Ohio State Cosmetology and Barber Board, a licensing and regulatory board, to check its records about the salon. A representative from the board said a search of their records show no disciplinary action had ever been initiated or taken against the salon by the board.

“We met all the requirements,” Ryan said. “If (her statement)  is to insinuate that there is something  wrong about our business, I disagree. We have had no issues.” 

When she inquired about signing a new lease in April, Ryan said she learned that the space her shop founded 25 years ago had been leased to someone else. 

She later received a letter from Murphy saying among other things that Miami Valley Commercial Group” has decided that we are not interested in renewing the Lease or otherwise continuing the tenancy of Martha’s Skin Care in Fountain Square Center.” 

Her lease with the shopping center will expire May 31. 

The letter from Ryan is posted on the door of Martha’s.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Kettering salon posts letter from Fountain Square owner on door 

Ryan said she does not recall anyone from Miami Valley Commercial doing a walk through her business. 

The only issues regarding documents she could think of was when her insurance company had to try multiple times to get information to Miami Valley Commercial Group, she said. “That didn’t mean we didn’t have it,” she said. 

Ryan said she hopes to reopen Martha’s in a new location in the months to come. 

She said that she and her seven member staff are sad that the business was forced to close so abruptly, but understands that Miami Valley Commercial Group has the right to not renew the lease.

“It is her shopping center. If someone doesn’t want you, why do I want to be there?” she said. “It is not good for me, and it is not good for the business.” 

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Martha's Skin Care is closing after its lease was not renewed. Cindy Gray a Martha’s nail technician 24 years, said the loss of lease has prompted her to retire. She is pictured with her client Charlene Sims
Photo: Photo: Amelia Robinson

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