FLASHBACK: L’Auberge meets the wrecking ball in 2013

Demolition began in 2013 at what was once the most highly credentialed restaurant in the Dayton area.

Workers tore down the l’Auberge restaurant property at 4120 Far Hills Ave. in Kettering, paving the way for construction of a new free-standing 3,000-square-foot Fifth Third Bank branch that replaced an existing branch inside the nearby Town & Country shopping center.

Demolition and cleanup were expected to take about three weeks, Fifth Third spokesman Jeff Kursman said today, Sept. 19. Construction will begin in late October or early November, and the bank’s timeline calls for the project to be completed by the end of April 2014.

The bank did not release projected cost of demolition and construction. Fifth Third paid nearly $1.3 million for the building and property on a lot on the west end of Town & Country center near Stroop Road and Far Hills Avenue.

The upscale l’Auberge, which opened in 1979, closed in early 2012 after Lebanon, Ohio-based LCNB National Bank foreclosed on the restaurant and took possession of the property. LCNB first started foreclosure proceedings in 2010, claiming l’Auberge defaulted on three mortgage notes and owed the bank more than $1.6 million.

Josef Reif and the late Dieter Krug founded l’Auberge in 1979, transforming a restaurant known as The Inn, best known for its fried chicken, into a fine-dining establishment. L’Auberge earned a coveted and rare four-star rating from the Mobil Travel Guide the first year it was eligible for rating, and held the rating for 19 years through 2002.