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12 dining and drinking franchises that are expanding in the region

Restaurants are big business, and franchisees are increasingly looking to the area to open new locations in Butler and Warren counties, bringing new dining and drinking options.

Here’s a look at 12 franchises expanding in the region.


A new Chick-fil-A will open in West Chester Twp., just about two miles from a current location of the restaurant.

The new location is expected to open Feb. 8 across the street from Liberty Center, according to company officials. The Chick-fil-A at in the Voice of America Centre Shopping Center will remain open when the new restaurant opens.

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A is a family owned and privately held restaurant company. Founded in 1967, it has more than 2,200 restaurants in 46 states and Washington, D.C.

MORE: Chick-fil-A plans new Butler County location


A new KFC will be built at 2211 N. Verity Parkway in Middletown on the site of one that closed there early last year.

It will open in summer 2018 and employ approximately 50 people, according to RGT Management Inc., a Memphis, Tenn.-based food service company that manages more than 70 restaurants, including Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut in Tennessee, Missouri, Ohio, Mississippi, Alabama, Illinois and Kentucky.

The new KFC will allow customers who once patronized the North Verity Parkway KFC a closer location than the one that is five miles away at 3361 Towne Blvd.

MORE: Miss that Middletown KFC? A new one is coming

Rapid Fired Pizza

Rapid Fired Pizza, a fast-casual concept that features fresh made, 11-inch thin crust and nine-inch pan pizzas cooked in 180 seconds, opened its first store in September 2015 and now includes 21 stores in Ohio and one location in Florence, Ky.

Locations opened in 2017 at 3583 Dixie Highway in Middletown and at 7 W. High St. in Oxford. A new location is coming to 6775 Dixie Highway in Fairfield this year.

MORE: Rapid Fired Pizza to open new location in Fairfield

Buffalo Wings & Rings 

Buffalo Wings & Rings recently opened a new restaurant just off Ohio 747 at 4782 Plum Square in West Chester Twp. in the Hutzelman Square development and another new one at 6963 South Liberty Drive in Liberty Twp. in December 2016.

The new eatery is part of what is billed as “the ultimate sports restaurant franchise” with a menu that includes “fresh-never-frozen” wings, burgers and more.

Founded in Cincinnati in 1984, Buffalo Wings & Rings operates more than 70 restaurants.

MORE: Buffalo Wings & Rings opens new Butler County location

Panera Bread 

Covelli Enterprises, Panera Bread’s largest franchisee, will open a Panera Bread this spring in West Chester’s Beckett Ridge area along Ohio 747. It will be the fifth Panera Bread in the West Chester Twp. and Mason areas.

Covelli constructed and opened a new Panera bakery-café in November at 5270 Kings Mills Road near Kroger in Mason, the first new Panera in the TriState since the Newport, Ky., location opened its doors in January 2014.

Plans for expansion include retrofitting existing café locations in the Cincinnati market with small-order delivery, drive-thru and ordering kiosk features over the next several years. It also plans to open new cafés in Dent, Mariemont and Cold Springs, Ky. near the Northern Kentucky University campus.

MORE: New Panera restaurant planned in West Chester

Smoothie King

Smoothie King franchisee SK Midwest just opened the first standalone, drive-thru location in southwest Ohio at 8774 Michael Drive in Fairfield next to the new Planet Fitness and near Jungle Jim’s International Market.

It plans to open as many as five standalone Smoothie Kings by the end of this year, with another 11 of the juice bars to open in the five years thereafter. They would complement the more than one dozen existing Smoothie King locations owned by other franchisees at strip centers and shopping malls.

MORE: 5 things to know about the new Smoothie King (and why it’s different)

Taziki’s Mediterranean Café

Birmingham Ala.-based chain Taziki’s Mediterranean Café, which has more than 80 locations in 16 states, will open a new location in the spring at 7841 Tylersville Road in West Chester Twp. in the West Chester Plaza that is home to Kroger and other businesses.

Taziki’s Mediterranean Café is known for its healthy meal options, including grilled salmon, tomato basil sandwich, fresh-grilled Mediterranean gyros, fresh prepared meats and various seafood, vegetarian and gluten-free options.

The West Chester Twp. location will be the second Ohio location of the restaurant. The chain opened a Warren County location in 2016 at 9640 Mason-Montgomery Road in Deerfield Twp. next to Brixx Wood Fired Pizza.

MORE: Restaurant expands with first Butler County location


Fast-food franchise Hardee’s opened new location on South Breiel Boulevard in Middletown on Jan. 22 and a new one at 1510 S. Erie Blvd in Hamilton on Jan. 8

The Middletown store was the third franchisee Pavilion Restaurant Group has opened in the last three months, including 

MORE: Hardee’s returns to Middletown after more than a decade away

Guthrie’s Chicken Fingers

Guthrie’s Chicken Fingers is coming to Fairfield’s new Stockton Station, a $2 million project being built at 6775 Dixie Highway in Fairfield.

Guthrie’s, an Alabama chicken chain started in 1965, has more than 27 locations around Alabama, as well as locations in Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.

The restaurant chain considers itself the “original chicken finger specialists,” as it started to serve the now-common dish in the 1970s.

MORE: Alabama chicken chain to open restaurant in Butler County

Dairy Queen

A Dairy Queen restaurant is planned to open in Liberty’s downtown Bethany area later this year.

The 2,612-square-foot eatery is planned for a 1.54-acre site at the southeast corner of Cincinnati-Dayton Road and Wyandot Lane, about half a mile north of Ohio 129 Cincinnati-Dayton Road exit.

Once constructed, it will be one of two Dairy Queens in Butler County.

MORE: Dairy Queen coming to Liberty Twp.

Gold Star Chili

Gold Star Chili is building a new restaurant at 7388 North Liberty Drive in the Liberty Commons shopping center, just north of Ohio 129’s Cincinnati-Dayton Road exit.

The new Gold Star, which the chain said should open “in the next couple of months,” will be located next to Burger King and between Kroger and First Watch.

Founded in 1965 by the four Daoud brothers, Gold Star Chili has 76 locations in the Greater Cincinnati area, including 57 serving its original menu and 19 offering its “Chill & Grill” menu, according to the company’s website.

MORE: Gold Star Chili building new Butler County restaurant

Burger King

A new Burger King will open at 5093 College Corner Pike in Oxford will be 2,800-square-feet and seat 61 customers.

Burger King at 5165 Pleasant Ave. near Nilles Road in Fairfield is undergoing what’s been described as a major interior and exterior renovation.

GPS Hospitality opened a new Burger King at 525 Kolb Drive in Fairfield just northwest of Forest Fair Village in 2016.

MORE: New fast food restaurant coming to Oxford

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