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5 things to know: Applebee’s abruptly shuts down Dayton-area restaurant

Here are five things to know about Saturday’s abrupt closure of the Applebee's Grill & Bar restaurant on Wilmington Pike in Sugarcreek Twp.

  • The restaurant at 6242 Wilmington Pike is not owned directly by Applebee’s parent company, but rather by Nebraska-based RMH Franchise, which operates all Applebee’s locations in the Dayton area.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Applebee’s shuts down its Sugarcreek Twp. restaurant

  • RMH purchased all of the Applebee’s in central and southwest Ohio from a Lexington, Ky. franchise company in late 2013, a transaction that more than doubled the number of Applebee’s restaurants run by RMH. But just before that transaction closed, three Applebee’s locations in southwest and central Ohio, including one at 1450 W. Dorothy Lane in Kettering and others in Milford and Dublin, shut down. The Kettering space now houses an El Rancho Grande Mexican restaurant.

>> Local winery’s iconic sign made from 150-year-old redwood cask obliterated by storm, power pole 

  • When the purchase was complete, a spokesman for Applebee’s corporate said his company was committed to working with the new franchise owner to expand the Applebee’s footprint. “RMH is a strong, growing franchise partner, and they are committed to sustainable growth” in its markets, including southwest Ohio, Applebee’s spokesman Dan Smith said in December 2013. 

>> Applebee’s franchise owner closes one of its Kettering restaurants (December 2013)

  • Customers who showed up to eat on Saturday found the Wilmington Pike restaurant closed, but were given coupons by Applebee’s representatives for $10 off at two other Dayton-area Applebee’s: one on Delco Park Drive in Kettering, and one on Ohio 741 just north of the Dayton Mall. “Thank you for sharing your community with us,” the coupon read. “We have closed this location and look forward to seeing you at our other area Applebee’s.”

>> Dayton mother, in prison for killing son in 1992, dies in Ohio prison

  • The manager of the Sugarcreek Twp. Applebee’s on Saturday referred all questions about the closing to a spokesperson for RMH Franchise, who has not responded to requests for comment left Saturday afternoon and this morning, Monday June 11. It is not clear how many employees were affected by the shutdown, or whether any or all of those employees were offered positions at other Dayton-area Applebee’s locations. When the West Kettering Applebee’s closed in December 2013, a spokesman for Applebee’s corporate said all of that restaurant’s employees were offered positions at other restaurants. 

>> Dayton Mall Applebee’s property sold (April 2018)

>> One-time Ohio congressional district candidate arrested while streaming incident live on Facebook

JUST IN: Applebee’s shuts down one of its Dayton-area restaurants

The franchise owner of Applebee’s Grill & Bar restaurants throughout Ohio has permanently shut down one of its Dayton-area restaurants effective today, Saturday, June 9.

“Thank you for sharing your community with us,” reads a coupon offering $10 off at two other Dayton-area Applebee’s, offered to customers of the restaurant at 6242 Wilmington Pike in Sugarcreek Twp. “We have closed this location and look forward to seeing you at our other area Applebee’s.”

>> One-time Ohio congressional district candidate arrested while streaming incident live on Facebook

The coupon was being handed out to prospective diners who came to the Wilmington Pike location this afternoon. 

>> Dayton Mall Applebee’s property sold (April 2018)

The general manager of the restaurant referred all questions to a spokeswoman for RMH Franchise, the restaurant-franchise company based in Lincoln, Neb. that operates Dayton-area Applebee’s restaurants. Phone and email messages left with the RMH Franchise spokeswoman were not immediately returned. 

>> Applebee’s franchise owner closes one of its Kettering restaurants (December 2013)

RMH Franchise purchased what was then 88 Ohio Applebee’s in the fall of 2013 as part of a multi-state sale by a Kentucky-based franchisee. In December 2013, the Applebee’s at 1450 W. Dorothy Lane shut down permanently. After sitting vacant for a few years, that space now houses an El Rancho Grande Mexican restaurant. 

>> Dayton mother, in prison for killing son in 1992, dies in Ohio prison

Elsa’s — already poised to open in Sugarcreek Twp. — eyes another new location in south suburbs

Elsa’s Mexican Restaurant, which is poised to open a large cantina-style restaurant in the Sugarcreek Plaza off Wilmington Pike, may have another new location in the works soon in Springboro. 

The Dayton-based Mexican restaurant chain applied earlier this week for liquor licenses for space at 774 N. Main St. in Springboro. 

>> Land of Illusion to transform from scream park to water park starting today

>> NEW TODAY: New Dayton bakery coming this fall is sweeter for more reasons than one

Reached this morning, here’s what Elsa’s co-owner Jason Hemmert said about the applications:

“We are being proactive in applying for the liquor license, since there are not many available in that area, and we are in early negotiations for the space, which is currently BW3's in Springboro.”

BEST OF DAYTON: Elsa’s wins for Best Margarita

“Though not finalized, we are working hard at it and hope this will be the next great Elsa's location. We have been looking for some time to go down that way with our concept.”

RELATED: Centerville strip mall demolished next to Elsa’s

Elsa’s, which operates four restaurants and sports bars in and around Dayton, is putting the finishing touches on its fifth location, Elsa’s Corner Cantina, at 6204 Wilmington Pike in the Sugarcreek Plaza in Sugarcreek Twp. The space previously housed Caramella’s Italian Kitchen, and, before that, Murphy’s Irish Pub and Barleycorn’s.

>> RELATED: Dayton area’s 5th Elsa’s gearing up to open in Sugarcreek Twp.

Hemmert said this morning final inspections are scheduled for next week, and after a training period for staff, the cantina-style restaurant will open its doors to the public. The restaurant will seat about 140 inside and about 60 outside and will hire 35 to 45 employees, Hemmert has said.

RELATED: Elsa’s Kettering reopens today after 3-week makeover

Elsa’s also operates locations on Linden Avenue in Dayton, on Wilmington Avenue in Dayton, on Far Hills Avenue in Centerville, and on East Stroop Road in Kettering.

Cincinnati Zoo to transform habitats with $50 million donation

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden will launch a $150 million capital campaign that will help expand space for elephants, rhinos and kangaroos so the animals have “more home to roam,” Cincinnati news partner WCPO reported this morning.

Another entrance will be added to the zoo to help accommodate its 1.8 million visitors. The zoo also received a $50 million gift from Harry and Linda Fath. The elephant yard will be expanded from one acre to five so the zoo can accommodate up to 10 elephants, Director Thane Maynard said, and the expansion could mean more breeding in the future.

» YOUR PERFECT WEEKEND: 20 things you have to do, see, eat in Cincinnati

“The improvements made possible by the Faths’ generous donation will help maximize the visitor experience and provide better care and well-being for the animals that live at the Zoo, especially the elephants. The jewel of the campaign will be a giant habitat, nearly five times the size of the current elephant yards, for the Zoo’s giants,” the Zoo said.

Wildlife Canyon will be transformed to include a two-level activity course called “Roo Valley.” Beneath the trees, guests will enjoy the 15,000-square-foot grassy kangaroo walkabout with kangaroos and wallabies mere feet away. The little penguins will also get a new home complete with underwater viewing for guests.

The zoo will also add a beer garden, expected to open in 2020. A new multi-tiered seating area will be added behind the Watering Hole food and beer station where guests can relax and enjoy the view of Roo Valley.

More than 1.5 million people visit the zoo annually, and it features more than 500 animals and 3,000 plant species.

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Photographer accused of scamming a dozen brides also ripped off school, woman claims

Less than 24 hours after a dozen brides came forward and said they had lost thousands of dollars to Alphonso Morris, with A&T Enterprise, for wedding photography they never got, the founder of Academy of Scholars, a private school in Arlington, Florida, claimed Morris also ripped her off.

>> Watch the news report here

“At this time, it needs to be stopped. There’s too many people that trust him,” Shevonica Howell said.

>> Read more trending news 

Howell said she hired Morris in 2016 to be the band director at her school.

“I did see some red flags, I’ll be honest, on the background check, but things happen,” Howell said.

But she said that after he didn’t show up to work for 19 of the 44 instructional days, he was fired.

“He probably had about 10 kids based on how many times there was a birth or a death. I just couldn’t understand that,” Howell said.

When he left, she said, he took all the band equipment that was donated to the school.

She said she then found out he created a GoFundMe account with the school’s logo asking for donations.

“To scam the community, kids that look up to him – I don’t understand that,” Howell said.

Howell said she went to police and never heard from Morris again.

The Better Business Bureau has created a file on Morris’ businesses to help warn others.

“To hear that there were dozens of people scammed by this company and we weren’t reflecting that was disheartening,” said Shannon Nelson with the Better Business Bureau.

ActionNewsJax also found Morris was connected to another business called Snap It Photography.

A lawsuit was filed that claims Morris didn’t show up to photograph an event and it states, “This young man turned out to be a con artist."

The BBB wants people to contact the agency with complaints against Morris.

ActionNewsJax tried to contact Morris again but couldn’t get in touch with him.

High-swinging Kettering gym named Dayton’s best is moving

A high swinging local studio is moving.

Femme Fatale Fitness is transiting to a larger space in Kettering, Cassandra Guard, the fitness center’s owner, said.  

At 4623 Gateway Circle, the center will have 5,000 square feet more than it had at its former location, 4049 Marshall Road in Kettering, she said. 

>> RELATED: Femme Fatale voted best gym in Dayton. Who else won? 

“We basically ran out of room where we were kicking each other,” Guard said.

Femme Fatale was voted best gym in Dayton.com’s 2017 Best of Dayton people’s choice contest. 

It specializes in pole, aerial hoops, dance, burlesque, aerial silks and other similar aerobic classes. 

Students and instructors routinely perform at local events and shows. 

>> Watch Femme Fatale Fitness heat up Dayton's new library

Guard is awaiting final inspections for the building and plans to invite the public to a grand opening in the near future.

Classrooms will be larger and able to accommodate more students at the new location. 

“New customers were starting to get frustrated,” she said.  “Now we can take them.” 

>> Bloody, bodacious burlesque show to bring out the ghoulish glamour  (Oct. 21, 2016)  

The new studio is located in a former industrial building. It  has a larger student lounge, more restrooms and updated equipment. 

The ceilings are 14 feet high. The old location’s ceilings were 9 or 10 feet tall. 

“Being in the aerial arts, height is a big part of it,” she said. “We can do more tricks. We can do more choreography.”

Founded by Jacqueline Allen, Femme Fatale opened to the public on May 27, 2009. 

Guard purchased Femme Fatale in 2011. 

>> RELATED: A bigtop-inspired workout (March 26, 2015) 

Photos: Inside Oprah’s new $8.2M home on Orcas Island

Oprah Winfrey purchased a 43-acre estate on Orcas Island in Washington for $8.275 million.

Frosé at Taco Bell? Restaurant tries to lure millennials with frozen rosé wine

Say hello to the Berry Frosé Twisted Freeze, Taco Bell’s new frozen rosé wine now available at select cantina-style restaurants.

>> Read more trending news

The California-based fast-food chain announced the millennial-friendly boozy drink as part of a limited test launch this summer.

Taco Bell’s $7.99 16-ounce frosé is made with a couple of ounces of Charles & Charles rosé wine blended with a combination of berry flavors for “a tasty, strawberry-forward, easy-to-sip summer treat” as “refreshing as it is fabulous,” the restaurant told Thrillist.

>> Taco Bell announces new tortilla chips based on its sauces

As of Wednesday, the new Instagram-worthy drink is only available at the Chicago Loop and Newport Beach Cantina locations. But there’s a chance the company will roll out the new item to more restaurants in the coming months.

>> Candlelight vigil held for Alabama Taco Bell that burned down

Last year, Taco Bell announced an expansion of 300-350 new cantina-style locations between 2017 and 2022. The restaurants are known for selling margaritas, sangria, beer and other alcohol-infused concoctions in addition to Taco Bell’s popular late-night food options.

A total of 2,000 new locations are slated for Taco Bell by 2022, according to the company website.

Where did IHOP get its original name? Restaurant announces name change

The International House of Pancakes, better known as IHOP, is officially changing its name to IHOb next week.

>> Read more trending news

And what exactly the “b” represents remains a mystery. (Breakfast? Bacon? Biscuits? Best breakfast, bacon and biscuits?) We’ll find out Tuesday, June 11.

But before the IHOP we know and love is no more, here’s an ode to the original moniker and its history.

On July 7, 1958, Jerry Lapin, Al Lapin and Albert Kallis founded the first International House of Pancakes restaurant in Burbank, California. The acronym wouldn’t become popular for another 15 years.

>> IHOP to become IHOB, but what does the ‘B’ stand for?

But what was so “international” about the chain? Some say it’s because the restaurant served items considered exotic to Americans at the time, such as French toast and Swedish crepes.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Lapin brothers also hired a Le Cordon Bleu chef for the original “unusual” pancakes, such as Tahitian orange pineapple and Kauai coconut.

>> IHOP waiter says he was offered nursing job after helping feed disabled customer

The restaurant also expanded globally. Today, the chain has more than 70 locations in Bahrain, Canada, Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Guatemala, Kuwait, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In 1973, thanks to a winning marketing campaign, the chain name was shortened to IHOP, quickly popularized by the public and favored by the company.

Contrary to what some parishioners may believe, IHOP has no affiliation with the evangelical church the International House of Prayer, which originated much later.

According to CNN, the restaurant chain ultimately sued the church in 2010 for illegally using its acronym and settled out of court.

Learn more about the history of IHOP at ihop.com

Blue Bell's Southern Blackberry Cobbler ice cream flavor hits stores for limited time

Just as temperatures are starting to soar, Blue Bell is bringing back another limited-edition ice cream flavor to help you cool down.

According to KDFW, the Brenham, Texas-based creamery announced the return of its Southern Blackberry Cobbler flavor Monday.

>> PREVIOUSLY: Blue Bell unveils Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough ice cream

"Ring the dessert bell!" the company tweeted Monday morning. "Southern Blackberry Cobbler is a creamy ice cream with a luscious blackberry flavor combined with flaky pie crust pieces and a blackberry sauce swirl. In stores beginning today!"

>> See the tweet here

>> Read more trending news 

Ice cream lovers can can get the flavor by the pint or half-gallon, the Houston Chronicle reported. A half-cup serving has 180 calories, 9 grams of fat and 17 grams of sugar, according to the Blue Bell website.

Learn more here.

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