Opening day tomorrow for new Austin Landing restaurant

Mike's Nashville Hot will open its first Dayton-area restaurant tomorrow, Wednesday Nov. 23, in the Austin Landing development in Miami Twp. —and a second location is already on the way in Centerville.

The new 2,300-square-foot restaurant is located at 10655 Innovation Drive, and is the brainchild of Centerville native and local restaurateur Mike Craddick, who also operates four Dayton-area Five Guys Burgers & Fries as well as the Another Broken Egg restaurant in Austin Landing.

Mike’s Nashville Hot seats 56 and will open with 35 employees, Craddick said. A second location is under development at 6230 Far Hills Ave. (Ohio 48) in the Shops of North Village retail center in Centerville. That 2,700-square-foot restaurant, expected to seat 73, is projected to open by mid-January.

Craddick 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.”

Nashville Hot has Cincinnati-area roots. The brainchild of former Tom+Chee sandwich chain president David Krikorian, the chicken restaurant opened its first — and so far only — location in February 2016 in Crescent Springs, Kentucky. At that time, Krikorian told the restaurant would be the first of many Nashville Hot locations to open in the Cincinnati, Dayton, Indianapolis and Cleveland areas.

Craddick said Mike’s Nashville Hot “is its own company” and is not a franchise operation, but has an agreement with Nashville Hot and is utilizing its recipes.

At Mike’s Nashville Hot, patrons can set the spice level on their made-to-order chicken, from traditional to Yankee Mild to Midwest Medium to Southern Heat to Nashville Hot, the spiciest level. The menu also includes salads such as “Strawberry Fields” and a kale salad; sides such as Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Hash Brown Casserole and Sweet Potato Fries; and desserts such as Apple Cobbler and DLM Killer Brownie.

The restaurant has a license to serve alcohol and will open with two local beers, both from downtown Dayton’s Warped Wing Brewing Company: Trotwood Lager and Ermal’s Cream Ale.

Catering will be available at each Mike’s Nashville Hot, Craddick said.

The spicy-chicken market is heating up. KFC announced last month it was adding Nashville Hot tenders, sandwiches and chicken pieces to its menu year-round.

In addition, the overall fast-casual chicken segment of the Dayton-area and southwest Ohio restaurant market — already competitive with KFC, Lee’s Famous Recipe and other chains — has heated up considerably over the past year. Here are just a few of the developments:

• Chick-fil-A opened a location in the Cornerstone of Centerville development in late 2015; invested $1 million in a makeover of its Washington Twp. franchise store this summer; and is now building a new restaurant in front of Town & Country Shopping Center in Kettering.

• Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is gearing up to more than double its footprint in the Dayton area, starting with a new restaurant in Springboro. Popeyes, known for its fried chicken and Cajun-style side dishes, operates restaurants in Harrison Twp. and Springfield, and is scheduled to build a new location on Ohio 73 just east of I-75. Its franchise owner says he’s looking to develop “three or four more locations” across the region in the next 18 months.

• Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers has entered the southwest Ohio market: a Fairfield restaurant opened last month, joining a West Chester restaurant and four other Cincinnati-area locations, and Louisville-based Joella’s Hot Chicken is planning to expand into the Cincinnati-area market with two locations this year.

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