A Covington Renaissance

The much-anticipated $22 million Hotel Covington should be open by the time you are reading this. The upscale hotel on Madison Avenue, in a transformed 109-year-old Coppin Department Store building, is a sight to behold as it aims to preserve the historic fabric of the building while signaling an ongoing renaissance for the city.

A collaboration between the Salyers Group and Aparium Hotel Group, the “dream come true” for Guy Van Rooyen, Salyers Group president, will include 13 suites and 101 standard rooms on eight floors (priced per night at an expected $189 to $329).

It is certainly a nice celebration of the area’s history—from its Duveneck Meeting Room, its Eva G. Farris Ballroom, its Roebling Suite (with views of the Suspension Bridge), and the Knowledge Suite (named for the horse Coppin bet on—and won big), to the inclusion of Magic Eight Balls and a deck of Uno cards in each room (iconic games made in Cincinnati) and the full-service Coppin’s Restaurant & Bar in the first floor lobby.

Already, the hotel has booked more than 3,000 rooms for its first few months after opening, mostly for wedding parties. The Salyers’ Madison Event Center is right across the street.

The West Side’s Turn

Not far away, attorney Margo Grubbs has dedicated herself to the “red-headed stepchild” of the city, the Pike Street corridor on the West Side. Her law offices (and her residence above) are there and she has invested in the neighborhood in a big way.

She bought the 404 Pike St. building, long known as the 404 Bar, in 1982 and she has always envisioned a good restaurant there someday. She gave it a go back in 2001, partnering with Jimmy Rosati, former owner of the Coach and Four and The Boot (which went the way of riverfront development), to create Margo & Jimmy’s. It was a fine dining experience while it lasted, which wasn’t long thanks to 9/11.

Now, Margo’s back with The 404, open Friday and Saturday evenings with “bar bites,” the “best $5 hamburger in town” and jazz, jazz, jazz live on Saturdays.

She’s feeling the energy of a re-invigorated Covington, as the city moves toward “multiple destination zones” and has dramatically improved the Pike Street entryway into the city.

Kenton County government must be feeling the energy, too. The fiscal court, led by Kenton Judge-Executive Kris Knochelmann, has agreed to purchase the long-vacant, iconic Bavarian Brewery property just off the 12th Street interstate exit in Covington. The aim is to consolidate county government offices and services there, to be more accessible to citizens.

A Local Success Story

In the “we love seeing good guys succeed” category, we have to celebrate the success of Glenn and Shelley Warner, our neighbors to the south, in Verona.

Hardworking folks who have an IT company, American Computer Solutions, they have taken their entrepreneurial propensities into a whole new world—all because Glenn needed to replace a costly plastic bracket.

Fast forward to GorillaMaker, the 3-D printer Glenn developed so he could make his own plastic bracket that wasn’t so costly. With production that started in the Warners’ kitchen, GorillaMaker now leads an industry, producing more than a dozen 3-D printers a month. They are succeeding, Glenn Warner says, because they are service-oriented and like to help their customers.

Warner predicts we’ll all have these printers in our homes one day, making 3-D images to our hearts’ content and starting homegrown businesses overnight.

But the nicest thing about the Warners is just how nice they are. They want to help people start their own businesses—creating jobs in their hometowns and fueling the local economy. That’s exactly how Warner sees his business—he vows to always be a local company, creating local jobs and local entrepreneurs. “There will be a lot of Kentuckians with jobs,” he says.