Changes are afoot in Mill Run with the closure of the closest movie theater to Hilliard and the opening of a pizzeria that provides pies in three minutes.
After a decade of operation in the Mill Run plaza, the Movie Tavern closed April 9 after its Dallas-based parent company could not reach an agreement to renew its lease.
"(The closure) had nothing at all to do with performance. The Movie Tavern was doing well and we received lots of social-media feedback from our customers expressing their sadness," said Danny DiGiacomo, vice president of marketing for Southern Theatres, the New Orleans-based company that owns Movie Tavern.
Southern Theatres has 488 screens in the United States, which includes the Movie Tavern brand and others, DiGiacomo said.
Movie Tavern was founded in 2001; Southern Theaters acquired it in 2013, DiGiacomo said.
The Movie Tavern at Mill Run opened in October 2007 at 3773 Ridge Mill Drive in Columbus.
Its closure leaves Southern Theatres without any screens in Ohio, DiGiacomo said.
"We just weren't able to reach an agreement on our lease," he said.
Eighty-five employees will lose their jobs as a result of the closure, according to a March 6 letter sent to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services from Allison Kalist of the human-resources department for Southern Theatres.
According to records at the Franklin County Auditor's Office, the Market at Mill Run LLC owns the Mill Run property the Movie Tavern had leased.
The 58,500-square-foot building was erected in 1990 and its tax value in 2016 was $1.8 million, according to the auditor's office.
Jason Taggart, a trustee of the Mill Run Owners Association and a former leasing agent for the Market at Mill Run LLC, said April 10 that he would like to see another theater occupy the site but that it might prove to be "cost-prohibitive" to make the theater desirable for the latest generation of film-lovers.
The Movie Tavern "changed the theater experience when it opened," said Taggart, alluding to its in-film food-and-beverage service that at the time was a novel concept.
"Theaters like AMC suffered ... but they answered," he said.
Taggart would not comment about the failed negotiations with the Movie Tavern.
Among the patrons visiting the Movie Tavern for a final show last weekend were Mike and Chelsey Richardson, both 31 and Dublin residents.
The couple went to the Movie Tavern for what they recall "as their second of third date" in 2011.
"We wanted to come one last time," Mike Richardson said.
Although other local theaters provide in-theater food service similar to the Movie Tavern, they said the Mill Run theatre had one edge: customer service.
"They checked back with you more than once," Mike Richardson said.
On the same weekend the Movie Tavern darkened its screens, Rapid Fired Pizza was giving away 500 free pizzas to celebrate its opening at the former Burger King at 3646 Fishinger Blvd.
Ray Wiley, president of Rapid Fired Pizza, said the pizzeria's concept allows customers to choose their own toppings in an assembly-line fashion and the pizza is ready in 180 seconds.
"The latest technology in ovens" allows cooking at such a rate, he said.
The only variable, Wiley said, can be the number of customers and the time it takes for customers to make topping selections.
"I was already making sandwiches on an assembly line so I took the idea to pizzas," said Wiley, who operated Subway franchises before founding Hot Head Burritos and Rapid Fired Pizza.
The first Rapid Fired Pizza opened in Centerville in August 2015.
The Mill Run store -- the second in central Ohio following a February opening in Westerville -- is the 15th but 10 more are in various stages of planning or construction.
"We looked at numerous sites before choosing this one and are pleased with the locations," said Steve Collins, who with his wife, Mary, is the franchisee.
Among the customers who received one of the free 500 pizzas April 8 was Amanda Guglielmi, who was at the pizzeria with her family after a soccer game.
"It's great they have so many dipping sauces for the kids," said Guglielmi, who learned of the opening on social media.
David King, who works near Mill Run, said he noticed the new restaurant after it opened April 3 and retuned with his wife, Lisa.
He said his son had been to the restaurants in Dayton and had recommended it.
"And he's not a pizza fan so I expected it would be good," King said.