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Skyline owner's lesson: Moving 900 feet could boost sales by 50 percent

Skyline operator practicing what CEO preaches
Posted: 10:28 AM, May 18, 2017
Updated: 2017-05-18 17:58:28Z

CINCINNATI - Perhaps the aging Skyline on Montgomery Road near I-275 could have gotten by with a fresh coat of paint. But it’ll do a lot better with a new drive through and a Sherwin Williams paint store as a co-anchor tenant, said Mike Misleh, president of Skyline Chili Franchise Group.

“We expect sales to increase at least 50 percent,” Misleh said. “The drive through is worth 40-45 percent alone.”

Skyline Chili Pointe

It’s the biggest real estate investment to date for the family-owned franchise operator of six Skyline locations. Skyline Chili Pointe is a roughly $2 million development on a 1.4 acre site once occupied by Fifth Third Bank.

It’s also an example of the evolving regional growth strategy espoused by Skyline CEO Kevin McDonnell in a recent WCPO profile.

RELATED: The Irish owner of Skyline is a lot like its Greek founders

Rather than leap into new territories in an attempt to make Skyline a national brand, McDonnell advocates a more patient approach of growth in existing and contiguous markets, including Dayton, Columbus, Louisville and Indianapolis.

“We want to make sure that we grow concentrically,” McDonnell said. “We want to focus on units that will have the highest chance of succeeding as opposed to trying to arbitrarily meet some new unit goal.”

That’s what the Misleh family is trying to accomplish by relocating its Montgomery Station store, acquired in 2005. The old restaurant has 90 seats, limited parking and “terrible ingress” from Montgomery Road, Misleh said.

The new restaurant will have 130 seats, highway visibility, driveways facing two streets and a traffic light that will make it much easier for customers to reach the development’s 92 parking spaces.

Mike Misleh

The 12,000-square-foot strip center took a big step forward last month when Sherwin Williams signed a 3,500-square-foot lease to occupy the building’s north end.

A national chain of hair salons has expressed interest in one of three remaining 1,400-square-foot spaces. Misleh hopes to break ground on the project next month and complete it by next spring.

“We did a study of where our guests come from, where they work and where they live,” Misleh said.

The family considered sites in Montgomery and Harper’s Point, but none met all the criteria for access and sales potential.

“We just kept coming back to this site,” Misleh said. “We feel like it’s a growing, thriving well-planned community.”