Covington Has Begun a Massive Transformation
New Stores, Restaurants and Community Spirit Lead the Way
By Shelly Calvert
COVINGTON - A transformation is taking place in one of Miami County’s small communities, and it’s bringing big amenities for residents and visitors.
The Village of Covington, with a population of approximately 2,500, is on the rural west end of Miami County in southwest Ohio. A 10-minute drive from the county seat of Troy, this quaint little town offers country living, as well as small town-neighborhood-life with various opportunities for employment through hundreds of local companies within a 25-mile radius.
But like so many downtowns across Ohio, old buildings began to decline on Covington’s Main Street, and revitalization was needed in order to bring back businesses and foot traffic.
In 2019, several long-time residents, in conjunction with visionary council members and business leaders, began to invest in their downtown—a venture that has included strategic economic development, upgrades to infrastructure, corporate commitment to keeping jobs in the area and a dedicated amount of hometown grit, not to mention a huge financial investment.
“Miami County, in general, is just full of beautiful communities that have revitalized their downtowns,” said Kyle Hinkelman, administrator for the Village of Covington. “We are figuring out where we fit in with all that. We have a vision and we want to implement the next steps for us as a village.”
New businesses like Glacier View Coffee Shop, Pacific Coast Surf Styles and Elias & Oliver Boutique are leading the way. These small businesses, which are all under the umbrella of Orestod Holdings, owned by the Haines family, also includes Marias Technology, a company that provides software testing and system implementation services to insurance companies of all sizes throughout the United States.
Marias Technology was growing and needed a larger office space, according to Chris Haines, president and executive director of the company. They could have built their new office in any location but chose their hometown of Covington in order to invest right where they live. Additionally, a concept restaurant called Boscoe’s, which is located within the new Marias building, is set to open soon.
These establishments have created the backbone for a “new look” for downtown just as the village is ready to begin phase-two of its infrastructural upgrades.
The first phase, mundane yet necessary, was to upgrade utility, sewer and drainage on Route 48, which runs through the center of town. With that work now fully completed, 2022 brings the more fanciful improvements of street pavement, sidewalk upgrades, new street lights and sidewalk landscaping.
“The look of our downtown will be brand-new,” Hinkelman explained, adding that in order to keep or attract young families to a beautiful place like Covington, the Village needs to have appeal. “We have completed the sewer drains and pipes along Main Street and next year we will focus on repaving the streets and improving the sidewalks and street lamps. All of that will give us a fresh look…a place that is attractive and welcoming.”
Also slated for next year—and something that is all the buzz around town—is a new 4.75-acre park within walking distance from the center of town. When completed, the park will feature a splash pad, basketball courts, a playground, a climbing wall, a pump track (for bicycles), restrooms and a pavilion that can be rented. The focal point will be an amphitheater which will be a hub for public events such as movie nights, school and church events, as well as small concerts.
“It is walkable from downtown and will connect the downtown to all the amenities the park has to offer for families and for our community,” Hinkelman said, noting that public meetings were held to determine what citizens desired for the park. Admittedly, not all the residents of Covington support the Village upgrades, Hinkelman said, but like all towns making a transition to meet the needs of modern families, young professionals and workforce development, some pushback has occurred.
“Almost all the conversations I’ve had are positive,” Hinkelman commented. “We have to move forward to differentiate ourselves. If we want to keep Millennials, who all want to work from home and live in a small community but still want some amenities, we have to adapt.”
Marias Company and the Haines Family
The Haines family has led the way in making the community attractive as a livable, workable place.
Second generation siblings Chris and Beth (Haines) Humphrey learned from their father, Doug Haines, the importance of being invested where you live.
“I was very fortunate to grow up in Covington in the ‘80s when there was an active downtown,” said Chris Haines. “We could walk around and go in and out of stores like the dime store, the drug store, or we would grab a pop at the bike shop. We are trying to provide something like that. We wanted to put some things here where people could grab some clothes or coffee without going out of town.”
In 2017, Marias acquired the building they were renting in Covington. Within two year’s time they quadrupled their revenue and customer count, requiring double the employees. They had to decide to move somewhere else, possibly to another town, or try to stay where they were and acquire the adjacent buildings, including the old dime store. Haines said it cost 50 times the amount to save the dime store as it would have been to demolish it.
“We just could not leave Covington,” he said. “We didn’t ask for any tax abatements. We want to pay our fair share. We want to employ people in Covington so they can have jobs and pay their fair tax.”
The newly erected building has created an expansive space for Marias on the second floor, with a beautiful coffee shop, Glacier View Coffee, on the ground floor. Right next door is where Boscoe’s restaurant is located.
“The majority of the Haines family doesn’t like coffee, but we wanted something available for the Marias employees and for the community,” Haines commented. “It is really cool to see what it has become. It’s the place where pastors are coming to meet with someone to talk. It’s the place where business people are meeting clients and where friends who haven’t seen each other in a while go to meet.”
Doug Haines is the family personality who not only helps run all of the businesses, but also with marketing and promotions.
“We are very respectful of the companies in Covington who contributed to the Village of Covington well before us. We understand that it takes time to build up to that level where we can contribute and we are grateful that we are able to give back,” expressed Haines, noting that one of the family’s goals is to raise funds for local charities.
Through the coffee shop they have been able to donate $3,000 worth of tips to charitable organizations, including the Covington Outreach Association, a local food pantry.
“The food pantry reaches so many people in our community,” Chris Haines said. “So we can use our business to funnel some energy to local organizations so we all benefit. The coffee shop wasn’t an entrepreneurial venture, it was initially meant for our employees, but the need for this place outweighed our original intent…it’s bigger than coffee. It provides that common space for the community to meet.”
Likewise, the family had not intended to get into the retail clothing business. However, loss of revenue during the Covid outbreak hit the existing shops in Covington hard, causing them to close. Haines wanted to maintain retail shopping in downtown, so his family opened Pacific Coast Surf Shop and Elias & Oliver Boutique.
“We thought if we’re going to do this, we want to offer the brands that we love,” he shared.
The boutique features women’s clothing lines that are fashionable and affordable. The surf shop offers name brands such as Oakley, Quiksilver, Roxy, and O’Neill, all of which are unique to find in small local shops.
All of the new ventures, which opened in the summer of 2021, have been successful, even bringing people from outlying areas into town for the brand name clothing and coffee. The coffee shop carries Boston Stoker coffee and a variety of local pastries.
“Pacific Coast opened a few weeks before E&O and there were people who came in and made big purchases to get it going. The appreciation for that—I can never say enough how much that meant to us,” Haines said. “It’s been very humbling. It is impossible to go around town and not have a conversation about what we’ve done or what we are doing. The attention—while the support is greatly appreciated—can feel overwhelming.
Jason and Pamela Sommer, also long-time residents of Covington and owners of the local Subway, are excited to open Boscoe’s Place. The opening is based on receiving some of the supplies that are caught up in the supply chain situation, but Pamela said opening should occur in “mid-to-late December (of 2021).” (THEY ARE NOW OPEN!)
“We signed the lease in January of 2019, then Covid hit,” she added. “So this has been a long two-year process of getting this dialed in. Only crazy people open a restaurant during a pandemic!”
The vision, though, is what has kept this couple working hard toward their goal of having a community space that provides cold beer, great food and excellent customer service in an upscale, casual dining space. An outdoor patio will open when weather permits, and this dog-friendly couple will allow pets, “something you just don’t see in this area.”
And the name Boscoe’s; what does it mean? It was the name of the Sommer’s beloved schnauzer who was in the family for 15 years. They know that dogs are part of the family and they believe a place where friends, families and even dogs can gather in a lively atmosphere is a much needed amenity for Covington. The restaurant will have the capacity to serve over 130 people between the inside dining space and the outdoor patio.
Boscoe’s will offer 16 beers on tap, up to six signature salads, a “Boscoe burger,” made with fresh-never-frozen beef, signature and create-your-own pizzas, and “huge whole-wing chicken wings” with a range of sauces. They will have a full bar, specializing in bourbons with a “smokey bourbon drink.” Other upscale bar food will finish out the menu, which will have seasonal items to keep things interesting. (See the full menu at the bottom of this page)
The outdoor patio will feature live acoustic-type music and will double as a place to hold community events.
The Sommers expect to create 25 new jobs. Currently the couple owns and operates 11 restaurants (Subway and Hot Head Burrito) throughout the region.
According to Sommer, being able to create the menu and determine the atmosphere has been an exciting process for the entrepreneurs.
The space will be available for rent for bridal showers, funeral receptions, company meetings and private parties of up to 40 people.
Boscoe’s bar has been a labor of love for the Sommers, Pamela said, expressing that it is “wonderfully, beautiful.”
The bar is made out of old reclaimed barn wood that is white oak kept in its natural state. A clear hardener on top of the original wood brought out the details, like imperfections, ridges and knotty spots. A double-sided fire place adds to the natural, clean look of the dining area, creating a restaurant that would easily be trendy in a bigger city.
“The Haines family has been wonderful to work with throughout this process, especially with Covid and everything else going on,” Sommer commented. “We all worked hard together. It’s really kind of surreal when I walk in there and it’s really quiet…and I look across the street and see the Subway that we opened 18 years ago. I never thought we would have a place like this. Sometimes I think I’m dreaming.”
Covington pulls visitors and employees from not only Miami County but from the outlying areas such as Newberry Township, which includes Bradford.
Hinkelman noted that 2022 will require some flexibility from visitors entering the downtown area as road and sidewalk improvements are completed, but the new shops and Boscoe’s restaurant will be established so the downtown is expected to thrive during upgrades.
While future plans are being implemented, Covington is on solid footing with large companies like New Tech Plastics Inc. and Perrigo that have been the foundation for employment and growth, as well as the well-loved restaurant Buffalo Jack’s that has been drawing people to downtown for decades.
It is a unique place that is comfortable for local “townies,” rural farmers and a population of old order German Baptist community members. That tradition of blending professionals, manufacturing, farmers and young families is why everyone uses the term “community” so often in this beautiful, up-and-coming small town destination.
“We have a lot of good people trying to do a lot of good things and that’s really all you can hope for,” Hinkelman said.
Visiting Covington, Ohio
Story & Photos by Matt Bayman
Along with all of the new additions to Covington, the community is anchored by a number of amazing attractions and long-standing traditions.
For example, each Labor Day weekend, the community celebrates the Fort Rowdy Gathering at Covington Community Park. The park is next to the Stillwater River and a special bridge is built each year to connect an 18th century period encampment on the other side of the river with the festival area. Guests can see what life was like when Covington was known as “Fort Rowdy,” listen to music, eat from hometown vendors and enjoy other entertainment.
There are several shopping destinations that add to any visit to Covington. In the downtown are: Black Cat Primitives & Antiques, Joanie’s Floral Design and Landis Jewelry & Collectibles. On the outskirts of town is Treasures On High, which offers concrete statuary and garden items, plus antiques and collectibles.
The new Boscoe’s Place restaurant will compliment several long-standing eateries in the community, including Buffalo Jack’s (known for traditional and unique menu items in an eclectic, Wild West atmosphere) and End Zone Sports Lounge. Newer additions include Mariachi’s Mexican Bar & Grille and Sweet Treats.
Certainly one of the most impressive features of Covington is that it is surrounded by not one but five major parks, plus several other amazing outdoor areas and miles of hiking trails. Just outside of town is Greenville Falls—a cascading waterfall along the Greenville Creek that also contains historic relics from the community’s past power needs. A wooden suspension bridge that connects two beautiful parks (Stillwater Prairie Reserve and Maple Ridge) is one of the longest of its kind in Ohio. The Stillwater River passes through the village and is a treasured kayaking experience, including an access point at the nearby FL Blankenship Riverside Sanctuary.
A little further outside of town is Goode Prairie Preserve. When in bloom, the prairie is probably the most colorful place in Miami County.
Last, but not least, are two cemeteries/parks located north of town—Highland Cemetery and Miami Memorial Park—that contain historical markers, memorials to local veterans and heroes, beautiful religious statues and overall beauty.
These are all just some of the many reasons to visit and explore Covington, Ohio.
20 N. High St.
137 S. High St.
Casey’s (carryout pizza)
200 N. High St.
End Zone Sports Lounge
601 E. Broadway St.
Glacier View Coffee
20 N. High St.
Mariachi’s Mexican Bar & Grille
301 E. Troy Pike
11 N. High St.
224 N. High St.
Y’all’s Country Club
196 N. High St.
Adams Greenhouse & Produce
Black Cat Primitives & Antiques
22 Wright St.
Elias and Oliver Boutique
10 N. High St.
Joanie’s Floral Design
111 N. High St.
Landis Jewelry & Collectibles
109 N. High St.
Pacific Coast Surf Styles
10 N. High St.
Siegel’s Country Store
242 E. Broadway
Treasures on High
8400 Covington-Bradford Rd.
This article will appear in the Winter 2022 issue of This Local Life magazine. Subscribe now to receive a copy. A limited number of complimentary copies will be available starting this week (Dec. 29-31) at participating businesses. Learn more HERE.