Franklin entertainment venue expanding

The owner of J.D. Legends Entertainment Complex is investing $100,000 to expand the 22,250-square-foot facility to accommodate private gatherings such as meetings, reunions, birthday parties and corporate events.

Charlie Samaan, owner of the Franklin-based entertainment venue, said the renovations are a direct response to client feedback.

“Corporate planners have said they are looking for places that can hose a private place to eat and meet, then come out and bowl,” he said. “We saw an opportunity after getting this feedback to do this and have a place to hold small gatherings.”

The area in J.D. Legends where an arcade was once located is being renovated into a private gathering space with a sports bar atmosphere. This new area can be used to have private functions without closing off the rest of the venue that contains a restaurant, snack bar, 24 bowling lanes, sand volleyball courts, tiki bar and a large outdoor patio, Samaan said.

Samaan said J.D. Legends, which hosts national concerts, sand volleyball tournaments and is home to the Franklin and Lebanon high school bowling teams, has its own unique niche, and the renovation will open the complex up for other events.

The renovation started in mid-February and is expected to be completed in the next three to four weeks, Samaan said. He said he expects to hire more workers to add to the 40 full-and part-time people already employed at J.D. Legends.

Once completed, the new gathering space will be able to accommodate up to 85 guests. It will feature 11 flat-screen televisions, a 144-inch projector television screen, a bar area and a small stage. He envisions the stage to be used for music, comedy and other live entertainment acts.

“We’ve been pretty busy,” Samaan said. “This area has been great and the city of Franklin has also been a great city to work with.”

Samaan, who bought the former Laynecrest Lanes about 12 years ago, said there are no other plans in the immediate future for the venue. In addition, the venue is already scheduling some concerts and other events for the summer.

For local business and government officials, they say J.D. Legends has been a huge benefit to Franklin.

Peggy Darragh-Jeromos, executive director of the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce, said J.D. Legends “brings in thousands of people when it has concerts. So many people are constantly going there for bowling leagues, volleyball tournaments, and other events.”

Darragh-Jeromos said J.D. Legends is “very accommodating” for various nonprofits such as bowling program for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Abilities First, local schools, and for the chamber itself. She said the chamber’s annual expo has been held there for the past three to four years and has hosted various meetings, dinners and other business events.

“It’s created a lot of positive buzz in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas,” Darragh-Jeromos said. “It’s a good gathering place in a good central location for people to get together and has something for everyone.”

She thinks the new renovation was “a great idea.”

“It’s a great space and I’m looking forward to having a chamber meeting there,” Darragh-Jeromos said.

City Councilman Scott Lipps, who is also a businessman in the community, has watched Samaan worked to grow his business over the years.

“It (J.D. Legends) has changed the reputation of Franklin,” Lipps said. “He (Samaan) did more than the downtown murals, which were created to create community pride and increase tourism. People come from all over the region to go to J.D. Legends and come away seeing Franklin differently as it also created pride and increased tourism.”

Lipps, former Franklin mayor, said he’s had a pair of personal experiences in which a couple from Oakwood and a couple from Indianapolis told him that they had a nice dinner, had fun at J.D. Legends and said they loved it.

“It’s been a real positive image changer,” he said. “It really has enhanced Franklin’s image that the image people had 10 or 20 years ago.

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