Original Rib House property sold; new restaurant planned

The Original Rib House, which operated for 38 years in Vandalia until shutting down in July 2019, has been sold, and a new Chipotle Mexican restaurants is planned for the site. MARK FISHER/STAFF
The Original Rib House, which operated for 38 years in Vandalia until shutting down in July 2019, has been sold, and a new Chipotle Mexican restaurants is planned for the site. MARK FISHER/STAFF

For more than half a century, hot meals have been served at 275 E. National Road in Vandalia, first as a Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant, then during a 38-year run as the Original Rib House.

When that barbecue restaurant shut down in July 2019, its co-owner, Bill Brusman, called the closure “the end of an era.”

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But a new era is poised to begin for the space. The Original Rib House property has been sold to a Cincinnati-based real-estate developer who is working with Chipotle officials to put in a Chipotle Mexican Grill at the site, according to Robert Zavakos, senior vice president of the commercial real estate firm NAI Bergman, who represented the seller in the transaction.

Doug Compton, who represented the buyer, ComptonAddy Commercial Real Estate, and a spokesman for the city of Vandalia both confirmed Sunday that plans call for a Chipotle restaurant to be built on the site, although those plans are in the early stage of development. ComptonAddy also has worked with Covelli Enterprises, the franchise owner for Panera Bread in the Dayton area, on multiple restaurant projects in the Miami Valley.

Vandalia officials issued a building permit Dec. 18 for a 2,325-square-foot Chipotle to be constructed at the site, a spokesman for the city said Monday.

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The Original Rib House was an institution in Vandalia over the course of nearly four decades. It seated more than 200 in its main dining room and lounge, and had about 20 employees when it shut down. But by 2019, business had slowed, in part due to an aging clientele, competition from restaurants in and around the nearby Miller Lane development, and the loss of big events such as the Amateur Trapshooting Association’s Grand American Trapshooting Championships, Bill Brusman said. The difficulty in hiring and retaining staff members also contributed to the decision to shut down, Brusman said.

Brusman oversaw a Frisch’s restaurant in the same facility for more than 16 years prior to transforming it into the barbecue restaurant, which was co-owned and managed by his daughter, Renee Brusman. Bill Brusman’s father Harold operated the former Vandalia Cafeteria and the former Vandalia Motel and Coffee Shop in other locations in town, meaning that the Brusman family has been serving food to Vandalia residents for nearly a century.

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