Dayton Business Journal - Friday, January 2, 2009

Fricker’s inks Miller Lane lease

Company to shell out $500K for renovations at former Joe’s Crab Shack

Dayton Business Journal - by Tom Demeropolis DBJ Staff Reporter

Fricker's Regional Manager April Baker & Paul Curtis, director of franchisingA formerly vacant restaurant on Miller Lane will soon be home to one of Dayton’s most popular chicken wing restaurants.

Fricker’s USA has signed a 10-year lease for the former Joe’s Crab Shack location on Miller Lane.

The Dayton-based wing-and-beer joint will spend around $500,000 to remodel the 6,000- square-foot restaurant.

Paul Curtis, director of franchising and human resources for Fricker’s, said he expects the new Fricker’s to be open March 17, just in time for March Madness.

“That’s our best time of year,” Curtis said.

Curtis said the restaurant will employ about 100 employees, between full- and part-time workers.

A Toledo construction company is handling the remodeling work, but Curtis said several local companies are doing sub-contracting work.

Because the space formerly housed a restaurant, Curtis said most of the work will focus on making it look like a Fricker’s.

The exterior of the building will be the biggest challenge, changing it from the barnaclecovered crab shack into the primary color splashed red, blue and yellow that has become Fricker’s signature.

On the inside, a number of flat screen TVs will be installed, as well as a children’s play area.

Alex Kolodesh, a partner with Oakwood-based Singer Properties and the developer of York Commons, said the casual, more family-friendly place will fill a segment of the restaurant market that Miller Lane is missing.

Kolodesh said the area may not have a lot of people living close by, but restaurants and retailers benefit from proximity to Interstates 70 and 75, residential neighborhoods to the north and more than 1,600 hotel rooms along Miller Lane.

The Miller Lane area saw a hiccup in its restaurant business early last year. In the first two months of the year, three Miller Lane restaurants shut their doors, including Joe’s Crab Shack. Butler Township Administrator Joe Flanagan said he didn’t think the spaces would stay vacant as long as they have, but he is glad to see one of the spots filling up.

Other recent restaurant additions in the area include Frisch’s and Chick-fil-A. Miller Lane also boasts a Golden Corral, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel and Ruby Tuesday.

While many in the restaurant business are looking at a decrease in patrons, Flanagan said the new arrivals are a sign the area remains a hot spot.

Kolodesh and Curtis said adding another restaurant to the mix is better for all because it forces them to be at the top of their game.

“Competition is always a good thing,” Kolodesh said.

Curtis said having more restaurants in one area brings in more potential customers.

“Variety in restaurants attracts people to the area,” he said. “They will just drive up and go to whatever looks good.”

Fricker’s has about 20 restaurants across Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, including eight in the Dayton area. The company’s West Carrollton location, which burned down in September, remains closed. Curtis said he believes the location will be rebuilt, but the parties involved — the company, landlord and the insurance company — need to reach a decision on the particulars of the new building.

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