April restaurant news: 3 opening, 1 reopening, 1 closing

April showers bring May flowers and, apparently, they also bring news of restaurant openings and reopenings, many focused on fried chicken.

The month had several major announcements including long-awaited news about the ever-popular Golden Nugget Pancake House on Dixie Drive in Kettering.

Here are the highlights from the world of local restaurants.




Golden Nugget Pancake House

The Golden Nugget Pancake House is working to reopen this summer after a more than two-year hiatus.

The restaurant at 2932 S. Dixie Drive in Kettering has been closed since the day before the coronavirus-related statewide mandatory shutdown of dine-in service in March 2020. John Thomas said the family-owned restaurant is working to carry out a few minor upgrades before reopening, including a facelift out front and a change in decor.

”We want to open as soon as it’s feasible, but with today’s hiring pool, I think it’s going to take a little longer,” said Thomas. “I could see us (reopening) anytime in June or July, but it could potentially slip to August.”

The Golden Nugget plans to hire between 50 and 60 full- and part-time employees before it reopens, Thomas said. Those wishing to apply before the planned summer re-launch may do to via websites for Thomas Restaurant Group eateries Doubleday’s Grill & Tavern and The Famous Restaurant.

Thomas said he feels “emotional” about restarting the restaurant that his grandparents launched 60 years ago.

”It’s a big honor to continue my family’s legacy,” he said. “It’s the most important baton I’ve ever been handed.”



A new Popeyes Louisiana Chicken location is part of the restaurant chain’s Montgomery County expansion effort.

The fast food chain’s new 2,200-square-foot location opened March 29 at 5798 N. Springboro Pike in Miami Twp., at the intersection with Alex-Bell Road.

Formerly a Tim Hortons restaurant until it closed in September 2019, the new store features Popeyes’ new prototype buildings, according to Julea Schuh, a spokeswoman for Popeyes’ franchisee Gilligan Company.

The new location will be accepting mobile orders via the Popeyes app.

”This is a whole new concept for us,” Schuh told this news outlet. “Also, this is a double drive-through to make it more convenient for our customers who are on the go.”

The Miami Twp. location will be Popeyes’ sixth in Dayton with more to come, Schuh said. That includes a new location 6793 Miller Lane in the Vandalia/Butler Twp. area, plus as many as five new stores per year for the next five years in the Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus markets, he said.

Gilligan Company continues to hire for the new location via www.teamGILLIGAN.com or by texting “PLK” to 85000.

Bubbakoo’s Burritos

Fast-casual burrito chain Bubbakoo’s Burritos is opening its first location in Warren County.

”We wanted to continue our growth in the Cincinnati/Dayton market as this is a focus for us,” said Ben Grannick, director of marketing for Bubbakoo’s Burritos. “The communities have welcomed us with open arms and have really enjoyed our food and the vibe of our stores.”

Bubbakoo’s Burritos is now open at 49 N. Main Street in Springboro, next door to Cassano’s Pizza. Grannick said the chain opened on Friday, April 22. The new 24-seat restaurant features tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, taco salads and quesadillas.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Kung Fu Tea

Have you heard of bubble tea? Or maybe you’ve heard of boba or milk tea? According to Kung Fu Tea Owner Dat Ly it’s all the craze.

Kung Fu Tea, a franchise from Taiwan based in New York, has opened its first location in the Dayton area – right across from Wright State University. Bubble tea, also known as boba or milk tea, is a tea mixed with milk or fruits. Ly describes the beverage as a healthy, milky drink with lots of tea flavor.

”We brew it fresh every day, every few hours,” Ly said. “We don’t leave it overnight.”

Kung Fu Tea also offers an array of fruity drinks, espresso and slushies. Customers can customize the amount of sugar used in the drink.

The café is the first Kung Fu Tea location in the Dayton area. Ly said he first tried Kung Fu Tea in Columbus nearly 10 years ago. Since then, he was making the over an hour trip to pick up several cups of tea for his family every week or every other weekend. He said he was hearing other people were making the trip to Columbus, so he asked himself, “Why don’t I open one here in Dayton?”

Kung Fu Tea held a soft opening Friday, April 15. A grand opening is planned for Friday, May 20.

Kung Fu Tea, located at 2630 Colonel Glenn Highway in Fairborn, is open 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day. For more information, visit their Facebook page.


Rapid Fired Pizza

After just over four years, Rapid Fired Pizza in Xenia officially closed its doors. The last day of operation was Sunday, April 24.

Rapid Fired Pizza co-founder and franchisee co-owner Kelly Gray said the decision was made because sales never rebounded due to the coronavirus pandemic. She also noted continued staffing problems.

The Xenia location was the last Rapid Fired Pizza restaurant owned by Gray and Rapid Fired Pizza founder Ray Wiley. They also previously owned the Beavercreek location on Dayton Xenia Road, the Kettering location on East Dorothy Lane and the University of Dayton location on Brown Street. All three locations have closed within the last year due to low foot traffic.


Krispy Krunchy Chicken

A national chain affectionately known locally as “gas-station chicken” is expanding its reach in the Dayton area with a location featuring late-night hours.

Krispy Krunchy Chicken recently launched at 1000 Miamisburg Centerville Road in Washington Twp. in conjunction with the adjoining Caesar’s Drive Thru.

Founded in Louisiana, Krispy Krunchy Chicken is a quick-serve restaurant concept featuring Cajun-style chicken fried in zero trans fat oil, plus a bevy of sides and other items.

A limited menu is available at the Caesar’s Drive Thru, while carry-out and sit-down options are available in the Krispy Krunchy Chicken space toward the front of the business, manager Arturo Garcia told this news outlet Monday.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

”We think there’s a lot of people who get the munchies late at night and there aren’t many places in Dayton where you can go and get quality food in 3 or 4 on the morning on weekend, and so we wanted to provide that service,” Levitt said.


Big Chicken

A chicken restaurant co-owned by a former professional basketball player is opening its first Ohio location in one of the Dayton area’s most popular mixed-use shopping centers.

Big Chicken is set to open at 10655 Innovation Drive in Austin Landing in Miami Twp.

Founded by NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, offers crispy chicken sandwiches, sliders, popcorn chicken, chicken tenders, salads and “sidekick” side dishes, including signature dish Lucille’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese.

Big Chicken also offers ice cream shakes, soft serve cones, ice cream sandwiches, plus boozy and non-alcoholic beverages.

It will replace another chicken restaurant, Mike’s Nashville Hot, which closed in December with no notice after five years in business.

Waffle House

A 24-hour breakfast chain known for its all-star special that includes waffles and hash browns is opening a new location in the Miami Valley.

Waffle House is projected to open at 1963 Harner Drive in Xenia in December of 2023, according to Njeri Boss, vice president of public relations at Waffle House, Inc.

The casual, dine-in restaurant is located on a 1-acre parcel of land behind the Circle K gas station on Progress Drive, City of Xenia Development Director Steve Brodsky explained.

”We’re always pleased to have another offering for our citizens and travelers,” Brodsky said.

He also believes Waffle House chose this location because of the proximity of the highway and the amount of commercial retail activity in the area. The restaurant will be less than half a mile away from Walmart and Lowe’s.

Waffle House isn’t the only restaurant coming to Xenia near Walmart.

Brodsky said, “There will be a few more, but they haven’t applied for permits yet.”

The city of Xenia has a lot of new and upcoming development including three housing subdivisions and plans for Towne Square.

”A lot of positive things (are) going on in the city,” Brodsky said. “We’re just glad to have the growth and we’re looking forward to new opportunities.