Kroger lease to bring changes to long-vacant Kettering restaurant

The section of Eichelberger Shopping Center in Kettering where the former Friendly’s restaurant sits vacant has been leased to Kroger, with changes expected for the first time in nearly eight years.

The Cincinnati-based national retailer has agreed to rent the 500 E. Stroop Road site, said attorney Gary Froelich, trustee for shopping center property. The building housed Friendly’s, which was closed in late 2014 as part of a shutdown of several restaurants for the national chain.

While deferring to Kroger on specific plans, Froelich said he understands Kroger intends to demolish the building and expand its parking lot, something the city said has long been discussed.

Credit: JEREMY KELLEY/STAFF

Credit: JEREMY KELLEY/STAFF

Kroger officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Froelich said he understands that work will likely start later this summer or early fall.

“I think it will be a change to the property that will improve the overall center,” he said. “I think their plans are going to be good for the center.”

The shopping center, which is across from Town & Country Shopping Center near the heart of Kettering, is owned by Jack W. Eichelberger Trust, Montgomery County land records state.

The Kroger store was remodeled into a Fresh Fare in 2009, while the city widened sidewalks and installed decorative street lights and retaining walls on Stroop in 2014. More recently, a CVS Pharmacy, adjacent to Kroger in the shopping center, closed in February.

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Records show the parcel at 520 E. Stroop is 9.5 acres and includes the site of the former Friendly’s.

Discussions about the site “have been ongoing for a number of years” following the closing of the national restaurant chain, which “honored their remaining lease obligations,” Froelich said.

During the past eight years, talks about converting the space into additional parking have been “the main focus,” said Tom Robillard, Kettering planning and development director.

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Friendly’s had been at that location at the Stroop and Shroyer Road intersection for decades, Robillard said.

That area has an average daily vehicle count of about 17,900, according to Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission 2019 data.

Froelich said the former restaurant site has been maintained. But redeveloping the building would have likely required “significant improvements” to the interior and kitchen equipment to meet current health code standards, Robillard said.

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Vacant properties

Many Dayton-area communities have a property like this Friendly’s — once a prominent business, on a very busy road, but now vacant for years. Is there one in your community that you have questions about? Email the details to us at jeremy.kelley@coxinc.com.

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