Applebee’s launches legal battle against its own franchise owner for control of Dayton-area restaurants

Published: Thursday, June 14, 2018 @ 8:00 AM

RMH Franchise has already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it seeks to reorganize its debts.

Applebee’s Grill & Bar’s corporate owners have filed a lawsuit to wrestle control of the brand’s restaurants in the Dayton area from its franchisee, in part because the franchisee has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The complex and high-stakes legal battle is in its early stages in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, but its ultimate impact will almost certainly be felt in the Dayton area. Applebee’s corporate owners have already identified in court papers one Dayton-area location — the Applebee’s at 1795 Delco Park Drive in Kettering — that would be forced to drop its affiliation to Applebee’s if a judge rules in favor of the chain’s corporate owners’ lawsuit.

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RMH Franchise Holdings — the Atlanta-based restaurant franchise company that operates more than 150 Applebee’s locations in 15 states, including Ohio — filed for Chapter 11 re-organization bankruptcy May 8 in the federal bankruptcy court in Delaware, indicating it would continue operating while seeking relief from its debts. Those debts included $14.2 million owed to Applebee’s International Inc. for royalty fees and advertising costs, according to bankruptcy court records.

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But Applebee’s corporate parent, Dine Brands Global, is challenging portions of its franchisee’s bankruptcy filing. In its own lawsuit filed three weeks after the initial bankruptcy court action, Dine Brands Global claimed that the restaurants operated by RMH Franchise Holdings should not be regarded as assets under RMH’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing because RMH had reneged on its franchise agreement. Dine Brands is asking a judge for a court order ruling that all of of the restaurants operated by RMH now essentially belong to Dine Brands.

Dine Brands Global claims in its lawsuit that RMH Franchise owes it a total of nearly $23.4 million in royalties and fees, and in future royalties and fees lost after RMH Franchise shut down some of the stores it operated. 

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RMH Franchise has not yet filed a formal response to the May 25 lawsuit. Messages sent to a spokeswoman for RMH Franchise Wednesday afternoon seeking comment had not been returned as of this morning, Thursday June 14.

Greg Flynn, Chairman and CEO of the Flynn group, the largest Applebee's franchisee, said in a a statement released by Dine Brands/Applebee’s  that despite the dispute with RMH Franchise, the Applebee’s brand is doing well.  

“It’s unfortunate that this particular franchisee has an issue, but at the same time, I’m very happy that Applebee’s is experiencing some of the best sales and traffic in a decade. A strong driver of our success has been our incredible collaboration and partnership among franchisees and Applebee’s leadership. I believe the future is very bright for Applebee’s.” 

 Court documents suggest the dispute between the Applebee’s corporate parent and its second-largest franchisee had been developing for at least a year. RMH Franchise “stopped paying royalties due under the franchise agreements” in June 2017, according to the lawsuit.

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And according to FranchiseTimes.com, RMH  Franchise suggested in documents related to its bankruptcy filing that Dine Brands was as least partly to blame for its financial difficulties, saying that “specific managerial decisions made on behalf of it by (Dine Brands) … have negatively impacted (our) business operations and left them facing near-term liquidity issues.”  RMH had been making efforts to reduce operating expenses in part by “divesting themselves of certain under-performing locations,” RMH officials said in court documents.

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RMH abruptly closed its Wilmington Pike restaurant in Sugarcreek Twp. on Saturday, June 9. Visitors to the restaurant that day were told the restaurant had shut down permanently, and they were given coupons for $10 off a meal at either of two nearby Applebee’s restaurants.

RMH has closed other Applebee’s in other states, including one on Tuesday, June 12 in South Bend, Indiana — that community’s second Applebee’s closure within a year, according to the South Bend Tribune.

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Dine Brands Global says in its lawsuit that if a judge grants its request, it would assume control of the vast majority of RMH’s restaurants and continue operating them as Applebee’s. But it attached to its lawsuit a list of 20 RMH-operated restaurants it would NOT seek to take over, meaning those 20 restaurants would “need to immediately de-affiliate from using the Applebee’s” name and trademarks if the judge ruled in favor of Dine Brands, according to the lawsuit. 

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That list included three Ohio restaurants, one in the Toledo area, one on Colerain Avenue in Cincinnati, and the Delco Park Drive location in Kettering. That location was one of the two restaurants to which RMH Franchise officials referred customers of the Sugarcreek Twp. location when it shut down Saturday. 

Other RMH-operated Applebee’s restaurants are located in Huber Heights, Xenia, Springboro, Springfield, Sidney, Mason, and on Ohio 741 near the Dayton Mall. 

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Blue Angels thrill crowd with performance

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 4:38 PM


            The Navy Blue Angels set to headline at the Vectren Dayton Air Show. Expect traffic delays around the Dayton International Airport. CONTRIBUTED.
The Navy Blue Angels set to headline at the Vectren Dayton Air Show. Expect traffic delays around the Dayton International Airport. CONTRIBUTED.

For the first time since 2013, the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels on Saturday roared aggressively through cloudy skies in front of tens of thousands of spectators at the Vectren Dayton Air Show.

Crowds cheered as the Blue Angels maneuvered through complex motions and rolled their aircraft 360 degrees. Marvin Napier of Huber Heights brought his two young children to the air show for the first time so they could see the magic of the Blue Angels flying flawlessly in formation.

“The rain is better than 95 degree heat where you’re sweating,” he said. “With the clouds, the planes fly lower so it’s a win-win.”

PHOTOS: Check out the planes at the 2018 Vectren Dayton Air Show

The 44th Vectren Dayton Air Show, one of the region’s largest events of the year, drew in heavy crowds. overcast skies and some sporadic rain before noon. The show kicked off at noon with a full schedule of performers, including the U.S. Air Force F-22A Raptor, TORA! TORA! TORA!, aerobatic pilot Vicky Benzing and Sean D. Tucker.

“We’re thrilled the weather broke and it’s been a beautiful day for an air show,” said Shiela Wallace, air show spokeswoman. Air show officials would not comment on crowd attendance until after the weekend is over, she said.

Military jet teams like the Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels are the biggest draw for air show crowds and organizers bank on their appearance to bring in tens of thousands of people at the Dayton International Airport. They can draw up to 65,000 or more spectators when the military teams show off.

Crowds jumped to their feet to gawk and take pictures as the F-22A Raptor pulled into vertical maneuvers and flew backwards.

The Blue Angels are expected to fly more than 30 air shows in the 2018 season. The team flies six blue-and-yellow F/A-18 Hornet jets as close as 18 inches apart in aerial formations. The team has flown the Hornet jets for three decades, the longest of any aircraft in its 72-year history.

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Children plugged their ears with their fingers to block out the deafening rumble of the Blue Angels, while other spectators held up their phones to capture video evidence of the Navy squadron’s skills. “Thunder, feel the thunder,” played through the speakers as the formation ripped by the crowd.

Scott Buchanan, chairman of the United States Air and Trade Show Board of Trustees, said the air show takes about a year to plan. The show is a huge boost for the local economy, with thousands of people spending money at hotels, restaurants and local businesses. Buchanan said he doesn’t expect the weather to have a huge impact the number of spectators who come out this weekend.

“It’s really an opportunity to showcase what Dayton has brought to aviation,” he said.

Chris and Sandy Porter of Bloomington, Ind., arrived early to secure front-row seats at the air show. Sitting in a blue and white U.S.A. lawn chair, Sandy Porter said she and her husband made the drive Friday night to meet with her family members from Columbus.

“It’s more just about being together with family,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

In 2017, an estimated 44,000 people attended the air show – down 30 percent from expectations, organizers reported. In 2016, the show drew about 51,000 people. Organizers blamed the low attendance at the 2017 air show on the cancellation of the Air Force Thunderbirds as the headline act, due to a crash, and record rainfall Friday that caused parking issues.

Air show forecast: Warm with chance for showers, storms

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Warmer temperatures return next week

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 5:36 AM
Updated: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 4:33 PM

Isolated downpours with a few rumbles of thunder.

Lingering clouds will make for a breezy day, but warmer temperatures will return next week, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar. 

>>Dayton Air Show forecast

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST:

  • Stray shower this evening
  • Slight chance for rain Sunday
  • Warmer temperatures next week

>>WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

5 Day Forecast with Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs

Tonight: A couple of stray showers will still be possible this evening, but most areas look to stay dry. Clouds will break more overnight as temperatures drop into the middle 60s.

>>LISTEN: Dayton Air Show Chance of Podcast

Sunday: It’ll be a touch warmer as most of us get in the lower 80s. Partly cloudy skies are expected and while most will stay dry, a stray shower or storms cannot be ruled out.

Monday: Mostly sunny skies are expected. Highs will be in the lower 80s.

Tuesday: A dry start is expected with highs in the middle 80s. The chance for rain returns in the evening.

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Wednesday: A few showers are likely, maybe a few storms as well. Highs will be in the middle 80s.

Thursday: A hot day is expected with partly cloudy skies. Highs will be in the upper 80s.

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Bicyclist killed by vehicle near Middletown park

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 3:54 PM

Middletown ped strike

A bicyclist is dead after being struck by a vehicle near Sunset Park.

Middletown Police Maj. Dave Birk said a man in his 60s was struck by the vehicle near Fisher Avenue and Sunset Road near the park.

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The collision occurred at approximately 2:20 p.m. The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating.

We will report more when information becomes available.

A bicyclist is dead after being struck by a vehicle near Middletown’s Sunset Park. Middletown Police Major Dave Birk said the person was struck down by the vehicle near Fisher Avenue at Sunset Park.(Staff Writer)

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Police are asking for your help finding missing endangered teen in Springboro

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 3:56 PM

Police are seeking the public’s  help to find a missing endangered teen. 

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Frista Gibbons, 15, was last seen around 2:30 p.m. Friday leaving her home on foot, according to the Springboro Police Department.

Gibbons is stands 5 feet 7 inches, weighs 100 pounds, has short brown hair and hazel eyes.

She was last seen wearing a light blue zip-up hoodie with a knee length leopard-print skirt. She was carrying a black backpack, according to a release.

Police said Gibbons may be with her juvenile boyfriend from Camden, Ohio. 

Anyone with information is urged to call the Springboro Police Department at 937-748-0611.

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