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New restaurant coming to former Pepito’s space

A restaurant and bar to be called Front Row Bar and Grille is in the works at the former Pepito’s restaurant space at 2412 Catalpa Drive in Dayton, according to Carl E. Johnson Jr., the new restaurant’s owner.

“We hope to open in September, just before football season,” Johnson said Friday in an interview outside the former Pepito’s. He expects to hire about 35 people.

Pepito’s was a fixture in the north Dayton neighborhood on Catalpa Drive near West Hillcrest Avenue for 33 years before it closed in January 2013. Johnson said he had eaten at Pepito’s, was saddened by its closure, and decided to look into opening a successor restaurant.

“We want to enhance the neighborhood,” Johnson said. He said he’ll invite community members to utilize the space when it’s not open as a restaurant, and said exercise classes and senior citizens events may be held in the space after the renovations are complete.

A company affiliated with Johnson purchased the property from the former Pepito’s owners in December 2013 for $30,000, according to Montgomery County property records.

Renovations are already underway, and repairs have been made to a water line into the restaurant, Johnson said. Earlier this week, Johnson applied to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control to have the liquor license transferred from Pepito’s owners to Front Row Bar and Grille.

Johnson, who lives in the Trotwood area, was an owner of Jerseyz Grille in Trotwood, which has closed.

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