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Miller Lane restaurant reopens after makeover/Max & Erma’s to renovate Fairfield location later this year

BUTLER TWP., Montgomery County — The newly renovated Max & Erma’s restaurant at 6930 Miller Lane will host a “cookie-cutting” ceremony and fundraiser Thursday to celebrate the significant makeover that will be coming later this year to the chain’s Fairfield location.

Nearly all of the 70-plus restaurants in the chain are getting some type of a makeover, and Max & Erma’s officials acknowledge that the renovations are long overdue. The restaurants are adding new tables and chairs, a gas fireplace to the dining room, more flexible seating arrangements in the bar and new carpet. The Max & Erma’s in front of the Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek underwent similar renovations in December.

The costs vary by store, many locations will spend “a couple hundred thousand (dollars) at least” on the renovations, Max & Erma’s President Steve Weis said in December.

The makeovers are part of Max & Erma’s efforts to claw its way back from a 2009 bankruptcy in a highly competitive casual-dining segment of the restaurant industry that includes Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s, O’Charley’s, Ruby Tuesday, Bennigan’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and Chili’s. The casual-dining chain’s parent company is Denver-based American Blue Ribbon Holdings, which bought the company out of bankruptcy for $27.5 million in September 2010.

Once a publicly traded company before it was purchased in April 2008 by Pittsburgh entrepreneur Gary Reinert Sr., Max & Erma’s had more than 100 corporate-owned and franchised stores in 2006, but had dropped to about 80 by the time it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late 2009. It closed its first Dayton-area restaurant on Kingsridge Drive behind the Dayton Mall in Miami Twp. just a few weeks after the bankruptcy filing. Today, Max & Erma’s operates more than 70 restaurants in nine Midwestern states.

The Thursday rededication will begin at 6 p.m. In conjunction with the reopening, the restaurant is holding a day-long fundraiser for the Butler High School Performing Arts Association. Supporters who present their server with a fundraiser flier available at the school, Max & Erma’s will donate 20 percent of the total tab to the association.

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