Restaurant brand, new to Dayton area, will build on Meijer land in Kettering

Taco John’s will join a Wilmington Pike fast food strip that already includes McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Popeye’s, Burger King and Lee’s

KETTERING — A restaurant new to the Dayton-area market with aims on Ohio expansion is planned for a vacant outlot next to the Meijer store in Kettering.

Taco John’s plans to open next year on Wilmington Pike, according to Meritage Hospitality Group, a franchisee for the Wyoming-based restaurant business.

“It’s a busy location,” Ana Pelhank, project manager for Meritage, said about the site.

Taco John’s would be the third development involving the Meijer property since spring 2021. Two multimillion-dollar apartment complexes — both workforce housing communities geared toward those with middle incomes — were approved on land owned by the big-box retailer near its store.

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Taco John’s is proposed at 4045 Wilmington on land fronting the road, according to Kettering plans. The site is across the street from a Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, and in between a Popeye’s and a Burger King, both of which opened in 2019. McDonald’s and Wendy’s also have restaurants in that row.

Taco John’s menu features tacos, burritos, quesadillas and desserts, along with a breakfast options.

Construction is targeted for spring, with the goal of opening around August 2023, Pelhank said.

Taco John’s, which started in 1968, has more than 380 locations in 22 states, including Ohio sites in Athens, Bellville and Circleville, according to its website.

Meritage, a Michigan-based restaurant operator, also lists Wendy’s, Stan’s Tacos and Morning Belle among its 344 eateries in 16 states. It recently became Taco John’s Ohio franchisee, Pelhank said, and “that’s where we’re trying to build right now.”

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Kettering welcomes the chain helping to diversify dining options, city Economic Development Manager Amy Schrimpf said in an email.

“This is a new chain for the Dayton region, and we are proud that they chose Kettering for their first location in this market,” she said.

Meritage recently announced plans for another Ohio site in the Cincinnati area as part of an expansion plans in this and other states in the next few years.

Meritage said it will initially build 50 new Taco John’s restaurants by 2026 as part of an estimated $100 million investment, with options to develop an additional 150 restaurants, according to the Oct. 19 announcement.

The Kettering proposal seeks to “carve off a new lot” of about 1.5 acres from the estimated 40-acre Meijer property, City Planner David Roller told planning commissioners before they approved the move last week.

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Meijer previously owned about 45 acres on Wilmington, according to Montgomery County land records. In 2021, Hempstead Landing, a four-story, 40-unit apartment building, was built on 1.175 acres. It is just south of the U.S. Post Office, 1740 E. Stroop Road, and was an $8.284 million project, according to state records.

Last year, the city approved a 5-acre lot split for the 50-unit Darby Run, a $11.537 million project, according to Ohio documents.

Both projects — co-developed by County Corp. — are general occupancy workforce housing communities that received 9% Ohio housing tax credits, according to state records.

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Staff Writer Natalie Jones contributed to this report.


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