MOUNT VERNON – Within nine months last year, local businessman David Stein opened three restaurants and a taproom in downtown Mount Vernon.
Last week, his team earned statewide recognition for its impact on the community.
Stein Hospitality, which includes The Joint, Dave’s Cosmic Subs and Stein Brewing Company, was named Main Street Business of the Year by Heritage Ohio, an organization that fosters economic development and sustainability in communities across the state.
“I was pretty surprised,” Stein said. “It’s kind of funny because it was weird to win a statewide award before you win anything locally. I didn’t realize how big of an award it was and how many different businesses participate.”
According to Main Street Mount Vernon director Carrie Hyman, there are 23 Main Street organizations in Ohio (Heritage Ohio oversees them all). Each organization had the opportunity to nominate one local business for the award. Professionals from across the state judged the businesses on their level of community involvement, as well as their dedication to the revitalization and preservation of their local downtown scene.
Stein’s restaurants have played a key role in downtown Mount Vernon’s recent revitalization. They serve over 18,000 people per month, Stein estimated, bringing approximately 200,000 people to downtown Mount Vernon each year. His three businesses employ a total of 65 people, and Stein Brewing Company is currently looking to hire more.
All three establishments offer a different flavor. The Joint markets itself as a classic American diner on the square; Dave's Cosmic Subs, closer to Ohio Avenue, provides a wide variety of sandwiches and salads; and Stein Brewing Company, located inside the Woodward Opera House, features a diverse menu with lunch and dinner options, as well as a taproom with craft beer from across the state.
But it’s not just about burgers, subs, barbecue and beer for Stein. It’s also about community partnerships.
Stein Brewing Company partnered with Knox Community Hospital this fall to host the first annual Kokosing River Brewfest, where all proceeds went toward the construction of the new Family Care Center. The Joint hosted ‘Cars and Cones’ on Public Square this fall, where visitors could enjoy ice cream and see classic cars. Dave’s Cosmic Subs has partnered with Mount Vernon High School and Mount Vernon Nazarene University for event catering opportunities.
And those are just the highlights, Stein said. He believes community partnerships are important because “it really just keeps the mantra of what we believe in, which is ‘supporting local.’”
“We hope others keep following in our footsteps and keep going in the same path because the only way all of us can survive is if we keep supporting each other,” Stein said. “We have to work together, it is the best way to get things done.”
Both Stein and Hyman believe the Heritage Ohio award symbolizes more than just one business’s success. They believe it’s a credit to Mount Vernon’s entire downtown district, which is evolving rapidly as more dining, entertainment and housing options become available.
“This award is a step in the right direction for bringing the recognition that downtown Mount Vernon deserves,” Hyman said. “With the existing business base, new businesses and restaurants, and the Woodward Opera House, we are becoming a destination for local residents and those outside of Knox County.”
Unlike previous years, Hyman said Main Street Mount Vernon was able to nominate buildings, businesses and individuals in almost every Heritage Ohio award category this year. There were 18 categories in total, according to the organization's website.
Stein Hospitality will be honored officially at Heritage Ohio’s annual awards ceremony, which will take place on October 22 at the Midland Theatre in Newark.
The news last week surprised Stein, but he called it an “honor.” The company’s Facebook post said Stein Hospitality is “proud of what all our places downtown have done in our small part to make Mount Vernon a better place to live.”
“It was a surprise,” Stein said, “but it was a fun surprise.”