Dayton-area diners lost some of their favorite long-established restaurants in 2020.
There is always churn and turnover in the volatile restaurant industry, but the coronavirus pandemic certainly contributed to 2020′s casualty list, which included multiple chain and independently owned establishments over the course of the year.
Dayton restaurants Corner Kitchen, Zombie Dogz and El Greco’s Pizza Villa, as well as LaRosa’s Pizzeria’s Englewood location, were among the Miami Valley restaurants that cited the coronavirus pandemic in explaining why they made the difficult decision to shut their doors for good.
In November, Golden Corral officials posted a notice on the door of its Beavercreek location advising customers that stated flatly, “We have closed our restaurant due to the business impact of COVID-19.”
There were also closures that appeared to be unrelated to the pandemic, including Logan’s Roadhouse, Double Deuce Family Tavern & Pizzeria and Fatback’s BBQ.
Here’s a look at just some of the notable restaurant closures in 2020.
LaRosa’s announced in November that the pizza restaurant it operated since 2006 in Englewood had shut down permanently, leaving only one LaRosa’s pizzeria still operating in the Dayton area for the Cincinnati-based chain.
LaRosa’s officials said in a release that “challenges from the closure of the (restaurant’s) dining room due to COVID-19 and the imminent expiration of its lease made operating the Englewood pizzeria no longer feasible.”
The closure of the Englewood location at 7712 Hoke Road marks the fourth local LaRosa’s to close permanently in the last four years, reducing the chain’s presence in the Dayton market from five locations in 2016 to one.
Golden Corral, Beavercreek
Credit: STAFF/MARK FISHER
Credit: STAFF/MARK FISHER
The Golden Corral restaurant in Beavercreek shut down permanently in mid-November, about four months after it had reopened for business following a statewide shutdown of dine-in service due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have closed our restaurant due to the business impact of COVID-19,” a sign on the door of the restaurant at 2490 Commons Blvd. near the Mall at Fairfield Commons informed customers. “We appreciate the support of the community and the guests who have dined with us at this location.”
Fatback’s BBQ, Dayton
Fatback’s BBQ, a locally owned barbecue restaurant and catering operation that has operated at for seven years at 1334 Linden Ave. west of Smithville Road in Dayton, closed in September.
The business posted a sign on its door and a photo on its Facebook page that it was “temporarily closed until further notice.” There has been no mention of a timeline for reopening. In early November, someone affiliated with Fatback’s BBQ responded to a Facebook inquiry about the availability of its barbecue sauce with a comment that suggested the sauce “will be available again in the near future.” There have been no updates since then.
Owner Larry “Bub” Britton had put the business, real estate, recipes and equipment up for sale in the summer of 2019, saying at the time that the business was growing and profitable, but he was looking to spend more time with his family, including his grandchildren.
Bar 145, Austin Landing, Miami Twp.
The founder of a bar-restaurant and late-night gaming destination thought he had found the perfect spot for his business when he announced in 2016 that he would open in the retail and entertainment portion of the Austin Landing development in Miami Twp.
“I needed an A-plus location,” Jeremy Fitzgerald, owner of Bar 145 and Reset Bar, told this news outlet in September 2016. “I’m super excited about it.”
But the Austin Landing bar closed permanently in the late summer or early fall.
Bar 145 served an extensive food and drinks menu. But it was also known for its nearly two dozen vintage arcade games such as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede and Mortal Kombat, as well as its half-dozen Nintendo tabletop games, all of which were free for customers to play.
In pre-COVID-19 times, the 6,100-square-foot bar employed up to 60 people and seated close to 200, including a mezzanine that could hold 40 to 50 for private events.
Logan’s Roadhouse, Miami Twp. and Troy
The Logan’s Roadhouse restaurant chain — which was facing serious financial obstacles even before the coronavirus pandemic — shut down two of its large Dayton-area restaurants, in Miami Twp. east of the Dayton Mall and at 1750 W. Main St. in Troy.
A previous corporate owner of Logan’s Roadhouse filed for reorganization bankruptcy in 2016, and in the fall of that year, as the company was gearing up to emerge from bankruptcy, it shut down its Beavercreek location that had been open since 2006 near the Mall at Fairfield Commons.
Corner Kitchen, Oregon District, Dayton
Corner Kitchen, the popular Oregon District restaurant that opened in July 2015 under the direction of the husband-and-wife team of Jack and Natalie Skilliter, shut down in late June 2020.
The restaurant at 613 E. Fifth St. at Wayne Avenue had reopened on June 19 with a new business and service model and a significantly revamped menu in response to the pandemic. Customers were asked to order their meals at a counter rather than at their table, and reservations were no longer available.
“Throughout the Miami Valley, we have felt so much love and support from the day we opened five years ago. We know that the passion of our hard-working staff provided so many memorable dinners and led to many, many friendships,” the couple wrote on Facebook. “However, the challenges of the current pandemic and the affect that it has on restaurant businesses has made us analyze the viability of continuing to operate. While we reopened with a change to our concept, we realize that we had to make a departure from what has come to be expected of us and the Corner Kitchen dining experience.”
Ruby Tuesday, Miller Lane, Vandalia
Ruby Tuesday shut down its last remaining suburban-Dayton location in June 2020, just nine weeks after closing another of its local restaurants.
The national chain had operated a restaurant at 6425 Miller Lane in Vandalia since about 2005.
Founded in 1972, Ruby Tuesday is one of the oldest chains in the casual-dining restaurant sector. It has had several CEOs in recent years and was sold for about $146 million in late 2017 to NRD Capital, a private-equity firm run by former restaurant franchisees, according to RestaurantBusinessOnline.
Zombie Dogz, Brown Street, Dayton
A Dayton restaurant that earned a cult-like following for its gourmet hot dogs as a food truck is the latest bricks-and-mortar eatery to close due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is just a huge punch in the gut,” David VanArtsdalen said of shutting down Zombie Dogz, his restaurant at 1200 Brown St. in May. “I feel like I let a ton of people down. I feel terrible. This is not what I want to do, but I can’t go on. I can’t do it.”
The Zombie Dogz food truck will continue to operate, VanArtsdalen said.
The Zombie Dogz food truck was one of the first to transition to a storefront.
El Greco’s Pizza Villa, Dayton
Credit: Lauren Rinehart for Dayton.com
Credit: Lauren Rinehart for Dayton.com
The one-two punch of the Memorial Day tornadoes and the coronavirus pandemic-related forced shutdown of its dine-in service was a knockout blow for one of the Dayton area’s longest-established restaurants.
El Greco’s Pizza Villa, which has operated at 3976 Salem Ave. in Harrison Twp. for more than six decades, closed in April.
The owners told this news outlet that El Greco’s Pizza Villa survived major disruptions in 2019, including a water emergency and the Memorial Day tornadoes, but the forced shutdown of dine-in services due to the coronavirus pandemic “is just too much.”
The restaurant is believed to have opened in the 1950s. Its heyday came in the 1960s and ’70s, when the Salem Avenue Corridor was a bustling, thriving destination for area residents and diners.
Double Deuce Family Tavern & Pizzeria, Huber Heights
After more than a decade in business, first in Dayton and for the last two years in Huber Heights, the Double Deuce Tavern & Family Pizzeria closed.
The pizzeria at 5186 Brandt Pike (State Route 201) had continued to operate briefly as a carryout and delivery restaurant after the March 15 statewide order to shut down dine-in service at all Ohio restaurants due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the closure was not related to the coronavirus pandemic. Co-owner James Williams had decided he wanted to sell the business and property before the end of 2019.
The Double Deuce was founded by Williams and Ralph Mueller in 2009 at 17 Brandt St. in Dayton, and relocated in February 2018 to space at 5186 Brandt Pike (State Route 201) in Huber Heights.
Bar Louie, The Greene and Austin Landing
Bar Louie closed two locations in the Miami Valley, at The Greene Town Center and in Austin Landing in January 2020.
The Texas-based gastropub chain announced at the time that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
“Bar Louie is a profitable business focused on long-term growth with new investors. The sale through Chapter 11 will help us to focus on our profitable core locations and expand in areas that have a proven track record of success,” said Tom Fricke, CEO of Bar Louie. “Most importantly, it ensures that we can continue to provide superior service to our guests, implement an exciting range of new customer-facing initiatives, expand our marketing influence, and continue to offer the 5-star experience we are known for.”
Citilights, downtown Dayton
A restaurant in the heart of downtown’s theater center closed in January 2020.
At the time it was announced before the pandemic, Citilites — located inside the Schuster Performing Arts Center, 1 West Second St. — would be replaced by a restaurant offering a new concept, officials said at the time.
Citilites boasted “farm-to-table American bistro-style food” in a fine dining setting for lunch and before shows. It employed 20 people.
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