New Butler County restaurants continuing to build during coronavirus shutdown

The coronavirus pandemic is holding back or canceling events and shuttering some businesses, but construction projects aimed at launching restaurants are continuiung to advance wherever possible.

That includes Billy Yanks at 201 Main St. in Hamilton, a restaurant that will be run by the Cafeo Hospitality Group, known for Jefferson Social, Incline Public House, Press on Monmouth, Somm Wine Bar and The Bell Event Centre.

Construction on the restaurant encountered some hurdles unrelated to the pandemic, but plans were finalized April 3 and construction resumed Sunday with precautions being taken to guard against spread of the virus, according to Cafeo Hospitality Group co-owner Tony Cafeo.

“We are hoping and praying this will be finished by the end of December,” Cafeo said.

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The restaurant, which likely will open in February, will serve specialty burgers and a build-your-own custom menu, plus mac-and-cheese in a variety of flavor combinations, appetizers, desserts, fresh soups, salads and sandwiches.

Construction on a 2,400-square-foot Chipotle on the northeast corner of the Gabe’s store parking lot at Towne Boulevard and Pendleton Circle in Middletown continues, according to Tom Harb, CEO of Florida-based Byblos Development Ohio.

“They’re still doing their best,” Harb said. “The rain the last couple of weeks slowed down construction a little bit, otherwise they’re still going as normal.”

Pandemic-related safety procedures are in place, including construction workers wearing masks and keeping their distance from fellow workers, he said. That’s not too far removed for the typical safety measures.

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“All construction people stay away from each other for different reasons, either concrete or steel or whatever … and we are cautious as much as possible,” Harb said.

Construction should wrap up by the second or third week in June and, following hiring and training, the restaurant should open by the end of June or the beginning of July, he said.

A Dairy Queen Grill & Chill project next door to the White Castle at 4780 Roosevelt Blvd. in Middletown won’t be able to start construction until the city’s board of zoning appeals in able to meet, according to Tim Dwyer, project manager for Leesman Engineering & Associates.

Dwyer remains optimistic about a solution being reached.

“A lot of people have been forced to work from home, including us, so we’re not operating at 100-percent efficiency and the cities aren’t operating on 100-percent efficiency either, but everyone’s helping each other out,” he said. “The city has been very accommodating with us and allowing to move the project forward.”

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Construction on a new standalone Panera at 5875 Dixie Highway in Fairfield got underway last month, according to Greg Kathman, Fairfield’s development services director. Now coming out of the ground at the site, the project is expected to be completed sometime in August, according to Kenny Westrick, safety director and project manager for Dublin-based general contracting firm Gioffre Companies.

Asked if the pandemic had affected the construction timeline for the restaurant, Westrick said “we are all facing a challenge” but declined further comment.

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