HOT CHICKEN: Competition intensifies with new-restaurant openings

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HOT CHICKEN: Competition intensifies with new-restaurant openings

The Dayton area’s fast-casual chicken-restaurant market is getting crowded as a henhouse, but one long-established chain is sending a signal that it’s not backing down from the newcomers.

Venerable KFC — known by old-timers as Col. Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken — this week shut down its restaurant at 4023 W. Third St. at Gettysburg Avenue in Dayton. But the restaurant, which its franchise owner said has been operating since the late 1960s or early 1970s, isn’t going away for long. It will be demolished, then rebuilt bigger and better, with nearly three times the seating as the existing location, according to Matt Saunders, director of development for RGT Management, the Cincinnati-based franchisee for Dayton-area KFC restaurants.

The projected construction schedule calls for the restaurant to reopen sometime between mid-April and late May, depending on weather conditions and other factors, Saunders said. The new store will be similar in appearance, although slightly smaller because of the lot size, to a new prototype KFC that opened on Springboro Pike (Ohio 741) in 2014, Saunders said.

The investment is significant in part because the overall region’s market is becoming increasingly saturated with chicken restaurants. Consider that within just the last few months:

• Mike’s Nashville Hot, a locally owned chain founded by a Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Another Broken Egg franchisee, opened its first Dayton-area restaurant in the Austin Landing development in Miami Twp., and a second location is scheduled to open Monday, Jan. 30, on Far Hills Avenue (Ohio 48) in Centerville.

• Chick-fil-A opened two stores on the same day last week — in Troy and Kettering — shortly after completing a $1 million makeover to its Miamisburg-Centerville Road store and opening another new store in the Cornerstone of Centerville development.

• Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, which opened a Fairfield location in October, told this news outlet it will enter the Dayton market in the coming months with at least two, and perhaps as many as four, new locations, starting on Ohio 725 in Washington Twp. and on North Fairfield Road in Beavercreek.

• Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is gearing up to more than double its footprint in the Dayton area, starting with a new restaurant in Springboro and moving on to three or four more, its franchise owner told us in July.

There have been some casualties, including KFC restaurants in Moraine and Middletown and two Church’s Chicken locations in Dayton (three remain open). But the willingness of the KFC franchisee to invest in a demolition/rebuild project of a restaurant that is nearly 50 years old reflects a resolve among one of the region’s most established chicken chains.

“It’s a good store for us, in a great location,” Saunders said. “We want to continue to serve the customers in that neighborhood.”

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