Small Business Spotlight: The Willis-James

Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month. Today we learn about an exciting renovation happening in historic Chillicothe.

The phrase “if walls could talk” may sound cliché but that’s the focus of a big renovation happening now at a historic home in Chillicothe. The early nineteenth century era home is being transformed into a boutique bed and breakfast named for two prominent former residents. Now known as The Willis-James, the 6,000 square foot home is expected to provide guests with an experience that fuses old traditions with sophisticated hospitality.

Owners Drew Musser and Steph Moore have an extensive plan and a vision to honor the heritage of the home while giving their guests an exceptional, memorable stay.

What’s so special about this house?

Everything.

From the pocket doors to the eleven fireplaces to the history of the people who lived there, the Federal/Greek Revival house and its story could fill a book.  That story begins with Nathaniel Willis who was an apprentice in Benjamin Franklin’s printing office in Boston. He started his own newspaper, participated in the Boston Tea Party and was a veteran of the Revolutionary War all before journeying to the Northwest Territory and this new town called Chillicothe. When Willis arrived in 1797, the town had been laid out only the year before.

Here, he started the first newspaper in the Northwest Territory, securing his status in the area as a contemporary and friend of prominent men in Ohio history including Ohio’s sixth governor Thomas Worthington. The Scioto Gazette would go on to operate for 110 years, becoming the oldest continuously operating newspaper in Ohio.

Willis built the original house in 1805. The home changed hands over the centuries with each new owner expanding the home, improving and leaving their own mark. One such owner was Thomas James who is known as the “Father of the Western Iron Industry” for the work he did in constructing iron forges throughout southern Ohio and Missouri. The city of St. James, Missouri is named in his honor.

The house also was held by Eleanor Tiffin and Matthew Cook. She was the daughter of Ohio’s first governor Edward Tiffin. The home remained with Tiffin descendants for more than a century.

Drew can weave together the entire narrative of the people who called this place home and the influences they had on the house. As they have worked on the home for nearly two years, they have found where it has been added on to and uncovered interesting details like a large painted archway first thought to be wood that’s actually stone.

Long forgotten artifacts help to tell the stories of former inhabitants including Wesley Claypool whose labeled vest was found beneath attic floor boards.

While they are honoring the integrity of this home’s history, they intend to blend in 21st century amenities aimed at appealing to the modern guest. Each room will have its own thermostat, a king or queen bed fitted with high quality linens, slippers and robes. Each room will have a luxurious new bathroom fit for royalty complete with a walk-in shower and a comfortable tub for a long soak.

In all, the house has five guest rooms including one ADA accessible guest room on the main level and a two-room suite upstairs.

Guests will find nooks and crannies in common areas throughout the house where they might linger to relax and unwind. For example, just beyond the breakfast room, a greenhouse or orangery as it was once called will be at the ready for anyone wishing to sit with a book and a glass of wine. “There will be lots of spaces to relax and to make you just want to hang for a while,” Steph explained. “We want people to feel welcome to make this house their home during their stay,” she said.

Yet, they also want guests to explore the best that Chillicothe and the surrounding area have to offer. They are focused on helping guests discover the experiences that will make their stay special. Whether it be an in-room massage or help locating the best hiking trail, the hope is to create an authentic experience that allows guests to feel like they are the first to discover the amazing qualities that make the area special.

They intend to bring in local products such as Rost Coffee, local produce and Amish baked goods to provide guests with a taste of the area as well.

The property boasts a carriage house that will provide space for public rental. The board room table for twelve can be removed for small social gatherings and events. An ADA accessible restroom and kitchenette will be available for comfort and convenience. The upstairs of the carriage house will be Steph and Drew’s new home. As primary caretakers, the couple will provide top notch daily housekeeping services and home cooked breakfasts.

The couple do know a thing or two about hospitality. They are avid travelers who love the bed and breakfast experience. They have lived and worked in resort communities like Vail, Colorado and Santa Barbara California throughout their married life. She has been in the luxury boutique hospitality business for the last 28 years and has specialized in operations, finance and business development.

“It’s one thing to work hard for someone else’s dreams but it’s so meaningful to get to work on your own dreams and visions,” Steph said.

Drew is a Chillicothe native and Chillicothe High School graduate. The Ohio State University graduate has been an elementary school educator for the last several years. His local roots run deep and he has family in the area. “We love to travel and always go to bed and breakfasts but we also love to be home and to cook, to be surrounded by people,” Drew said.  “There’s always room for one more! The more the merrier” Steph exclaimed!

“We want to give the traveler somewhere nice, somewhere special to stay and we want to give Chillicothe something to be proud of,” Drew said. “We want to honor the history and the integrity of the house and the town, but still give guests the comforts they appreciate. We want to be a part of the town’s story.”

These images show parts of the Willis-James in various stages of restoration and construction.

While The Willis-James is still under construction, they will be ready to host guests during the Christmas Tour of Historic Homes on December 11-12.

Small Business Spotlight: ABC Drivetrain Prepares For Veterans Appreciation Day

Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month. Today we talk with Daniel Bryan at ABC Drivetrain Parts and Service in Lancaster. They are busy gearing up for their Veterans’ Appreciation Day where they will give free oil changes to about a hundred veterans.

Something special happens at ABC Drivetrain Parts and Service every November, just in time for Veterans Day. That’s when this Lancaster business organizes a small army of volunteers and sponsors to provide free oil changes and even lunch for local veterans.

General Manger Daniel Bryan describes their Veterans’ Appreciation Day as “something special” as it brings together so many people who wish to use their skills and assets to give back to local veterans. “We call it a family event because the volunteers are literally family or they’re like family. They’re previous employees and people we’ve worked with closely. The sponsors are businesses we’ve worked with and people we can depend on like family,” he said.

Here’s what happens. On Saturday, November 13, veterans will receive a free full service oil change at ABC Drivetrain. There are donuts first thing in the morning and a free lunch available too. All of the labor, parts, supplies and food are donated. Even the tables, chairs and propane heaters are donated for the comfort of the veterans while they wait.

“We are normally closed on Saturdays but we open up especially for this. We provide the facility, labor and service. Everyone volunteers their time. We typically have forty to fifty volunteers who help with things like getting veterans signed in and you name it. We have former employees who come back and help with the oil changes so we can keep things moving and provide every veteran with a quality oil change,” he added.

Daniel went on to list the many local partners who help and that list is long. NAPA Auto Parts provides the oil filters, R.D. Holder donates the oil, and Advance Auto Parts donates miscellaneous items they need including windshield wiper fluid.  Jasper Engines and Transmissions donates bottled water and door prizes, Greg Clarke provides breakfast, Cherry Street Pub takes care of the lunch truck and Taylor Rental provides the tent, tables, chairs and heaters to keep everyone warm. Even their web designer, Complete Marketing Resources, gets in on the action donating their services to design the flier and update their website with their event info for free. The VA Hospital in Chillicothe provides literature about their services and there are goody bags for each veteran.

While this is the sixth year that ABC Drivetrain has organized this event, it actually began the year before with local business man Bill Allman. Mr. Allman was killed in a car accident while helping someone else. When two of his technicians came to work for ABC Drivetrain they mentioned the neat thing their late boss had done for veterans the previous year. “We wanted to carry on the legacy,” Daniel said.

While everything is free, any donations received that day will go to Honor Flight Columbus which honors our nation’s senior veterans with a trip to Washington D.C. to visit the nation’s memorials. Each year, they receive monetary donations from the VFW, General Machine, Locher, Inc., The Carriage Company and Ace Fence and Deck.

A Marine Corps veteran himself, this cause is near and dear to Daniel’s heart. “It’s amazing to me. In all the years we’ve been doing this, very rarely has anyone told me no. When I tell them it’s for veterans, everyone is all in,” he said. “We try to grow it every year. Right now, about 100 veterans are served each year but we really want to make it bigger.”

Oil changes are offered on a first come first served basis to any veteran with a DD214 or Veteran ID card. The event starts at 8 a.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem, a prayer and flag raising. It will end at 4 p.m.

ABC Drivetrain also offers a year round discount on labor to veterans and first responders. “We like to give back in whatever way we can,” he explained.

Theirs is a unique business. It was opened by Daniel’s in-laws Jeff and Bridgett Hinerman in 1996. Jeff had experience with transmissions but suffered a back injury at work. When doctors said he would never walk again, he didn’t allow that diagnosis or a wheelchair to slow him down. Together, Jeff and Bridgett along with Bridgett’s parents who worked part time, set out to build a business that could provide for their family.

Today, the business has grown to employ eight people including a roster of ASE Certified Master Mechanics to see to nearly all your auto care needs. Jeff, whose prognosis was so dire, is indeed walking again and has been for nearly twenty years.

“We use the word family around here a lot. Some of us are related and some of us aren’t. But you spend so much time with the people you work with that they become like family.”

Consequently, he said the owners prioritize looking out for employees and customers as they would their own family. “Our mechanics are all experienced and certified,” he said as he described the importance that experience plays in their work. “Safety is a big priority for Jeff. He was injured in a work accident so he knows how important it is. So we have a fork lift, engine lifts, all the things to prevent anyone from getting hurt,” he said.

“What’s the saying? If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life? That’s how we operate around here,” he said. “We look forward to doing this every year and invite any veteran around to come and spend some time with us. Let us change your oil and get to meet you. It’s all free because we just want to say thanks.”

Visit ABC Drivetrain at 330 S. Broad Street, Lancaster. Veterans who wish participate in Veterans Appreciation Day should remember that services are offered first come first served. Look for the sign-in sheet when you arrive. To learn more about this business or to book an appointment for another day, visit their website here

You can also contact them if you wish to support their Honor Flight fundraiser. Want to know more about Honor Flight? Click here.  

Small Business Spotlight: Rushcreek Feed and Supply

Rushcreek Feed and Supply Company has been a Bremen landmark and gathering place for sixty years. They’ll be celebrating that big anniversary with an event this Saturday.

With a wide selection, personal service and a large delivery area, it’s no wonder they have a loyal customer following.

Manger Justin Shumaker talked about their selection of products which is almost too long to remember. In fact, they pride themselves on being a one stop shop for livestock feed, pet food, lawn and garden needs, fertilizer and much more. That list includes:

  • Fencing Equipment
  • Pet Feed and Supplies
  • Garden Supplies and Tools
  • Honey Bee Supplies
  • Deer Minerals and Products for Hunting
  • Banks Deer Blinds and Feeders
  • Arrowquip Cattle Handling Equiment
  • ADS Plastic Piping
  • Birdseed, Squirrel Food and Supplies
  • Livestock feed and products for goats, chickens, pigs, cattle and horses
  • Propane
  • Custom Blended Fertilizers
  • Water Softener Pellets
  • Mulch
  • Custom Mix Feed for All Species

They also buy corn, beans, oats and wheat and offer delivery and a number of other services.  For example, they provide custom application of fertilizer as well as custom spray applications for fields.

“So many people rely on the customer service from a small company like us as opposed to a box store. We’re more versatile in a lot of ways like in making custom feeds. Only a local mill like this can provide this service,” Shumaker said. “Small businesses and small towns rely on good customers. We like to help our customers as much as we can and they like that they know us when they come in. That helps a lot.”

It all began on June 21, 1961 when five local farmers partnered to purchase the Brown-Burnworth Company from Bessie Brown. That company had been on this site since 1915 and had put Bremen on the map for its name brand Eagle Flour. There had actually been a mill here for many years before that. In fact, their office building was constructed in 1853.

Those farmers who partnered to organize Rushcreek Feed and Supply were Robert Pontious, Raymond, Scholl, Art Kelly, Joe Killbarger Sr. and Joe Kilbarger Jr.

Over the years. There have been numerous updates to the facilities to allow for expanded capacity and the addition of new products.  Today they employ eleven people and are on the lookout for some more help.

Join them this Saturday, August 28 to celebrate their 60th anniversary. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. there will be food, door prizes and some vendors on site. The public is invited to attend this free event.

Rushcreek Feed and Supply Company is located at 103 W. Broad Street in Bremen. Call them at 740.569.4105 or follow them on Facebook.

Small Business Spotlight: Downtown Treatery

Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month! Today we visit Downtown Treatery, a bright and happy donut shop in Jackson where the owners hope to make you smile.

There aren’t many times in life that you will be encouraged to play with your food but that’s exactly what happens at Downtown Treatery. The Jackson donut shop opened just before the pandemic began and has provided much needed smiles for a growing legion of customers.

That’s partly because this isn’t just any ordinary donut shop. Step inside the brightly decorated storefront and you will be greeted by friendly staff, a delicious aroma and uplifting messages on the wall. The positive messages and whimsical décor including a bicycle table are designed to make every customer want to linger.

“Our donuts are great but we want you to come for the experience too,” Nicole Brennen said. She and her husband Brandon developed their unique format that allows customers to customize their orders with an array of icings, glazes and toppings. Essentially, customers can make their donut unique as fun to create as they are to eat.

Customers can also try the Downtown Treatery’s signature donuts with names like Oreo that’s topped with crushed Oreo cookies, the Piglet which features bacon and Extreme Butter Cup which is a chocolate and peanut butter lover’s dream. Their Michael’s Bubble is modeled off a popular treat from another Jackson area business – Michael’s Ice Cream where their daily fresh roasted peanuts top off their signature bubble sundae. These nuts are a prominent part of the Michael’s donut.

Other popular toppings include sprinkles, toasted coconut, Fruity Pebbles and chocolate chips. Icings include flavors like maple, strawberry, cream cheese and lemon while the assorted drizzles include marshmallow, peanut butter, raspberry and classic chocolate.

They also have other menu items like cream horns, brownies, cinnamon rolls, mini pies and beverages.

Another huge piece of the business is custom orders. “We do custom orders for any event you can imagine. We do weddings, birthday parties, bridal showers, retirement parties, gender reveal parties. You name it and we’ve done it,” she said.

“We chose bright, happy colors that kids like because we want to be family friendly and we want to people to smile when they come in. Everyone says just coming in brings a smile and we want them to be happy, to enjoy some donuts and to remember that life is pretty good. It’s not so bad. There’s a lot to smile about,” Nicole said.

Nicole and Brandon sweetly tag teamed the telling of the story that led them to want to open this shop. “It was all her idea. She had talked about it for a while. We had visited something similar on vacation years ago and one day she started talking to me about buildings,” he laughed.

“I knew it was something we should do and I just kept waiting for the right time. Everyone loves donuts, they make people happy. I believe that God has brought us to here to help others, to bring joy to others. I’m grateful to Him for that,” Nicole explained as she discussed how special and decorated donuts have become all the rage for celebrations in the area. “Everyone loves it and it’s another way we can bring a smile!”

When they found the building that would become Downtown Treatery, it had been stripped down to the studs, providing a blank canvas to create the space they need. They hung curtains over the front window during the renovation, waiting until opening day for the big reveal to the community.  “When I took down the curtains on the first day, there was a line stretched down the street,” she recalled. “It was incredible the way people showed up for us. I couldn’t believe it!”

That was January 25, 2020. Just six weeks later, the pandemic changed the face of life in Ohio and forced the couple to adjust their business model. “We had to adapt if we wanted to survive and we wanted to survive. Failure wasn’t an option so we started offering curbside pickup. You could order and we would bring your donuts right out to the car. If you’re a small business, you have to get creative.”

Nicole knows something about creativity. As a sports mom, wife, dental practitioner and small business owner she’s always had to balance, juggle and hustle but has done so more than ever this last year. “If it were easy, everyone would do it. I’m no stranger to hard work and I really love the challenge of making things work, finding ways around obstacles and reaching for my dreams,” she said.

Their dining room is open and there’s plenty of room for guests to social distance. Prior to the pandemic, they had welcomed parties of kids in to decorate their own donuts. “We loved doing that and can’t wait to do it again someday,” she said.

While Downtown Treatery is a special place for locals to enjoy, they also have a number of out-of-town guests including some who stop in while visiting town. “Jackson is such a wonderful place. Whether you live here or are just visiting, we welcome everyone to stop by for a donut and smile.”

Downtown Treatery is located at 229 Broadway Street in Jackson. Find hours, menu and more at their Facebook page!  

Small Business Spotlight: Das KaffeeHaus von Frau Burkhart

Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month! This time we are pleased to feature Das KaffeeHaus von Frau Burkhart in Lithopolis.

Das KaffeeHaus von Frau Burkhart adds color and charm to the streetscape in downtown Lithopolis.

Ask Amy and Joseph Contino about their coffee shop and it is clear that it’s not your run-of-the-mill place to buy coffee. The business and its owners have a colorful story and something special to offer. Das KaffeeHaus von Frau Burkhart has stood out as a colorful addition to the Lithopolis streetscape for ten years. The brick exterior with cheerful yellow accents invites customers in but it’s the European experience and German coffee that keeps them coming back.

Joseph is a charismatic storyteller who accepts responsibility for the vision that led to this venture.

The pair are veterans – he’s an Italian from Groveport and she is from generations of good German stock in Cincinnati. They met while serving in the US Air Force where she picked up the call sign Frau Burkhart, a fun twist on her maiden name and German heritage with a hat tip to Cloris Leachman’s character Frau Blucher in Young Frankenstein.

The coffee shop is actually modeled off the German cafes that Joseph, an Air Force Pilot, discovered during his many trips to Germany. “We were never what you would call coffee snobs. We were utilitarian drinkers and really just drank coffee for the caffeine. That all changed my first time in Germany,” he said.  “I was tired, I was exhausted and I just wanted a cup of coffee to give me some energy. One taste and I was hooked. It was the best coffee I’ve ever tasted.”

He discovered that coffee is less beverage and more a way of life in Germany where every restaurant, dance club, beer garden and café serves excellent coffees. Inspired and motivated, he began searching the country for the best of the best German brew while convincing a reluctant Amy that this was a good idea.

The rest, as they say, is history. Today, the coffee shop sits on the main drag through town, not far from central Ohio communities where consumers are looking for a different kind of coffee shop experience.

And it is different from other American coffee houses.

The laidback vibe here is offset by cool techno music, a reminder of the German club scene. Walls are adorned with artwork and subtle humorous nods to the country.  “We have a different vibe and a different product on purpose. We don’t want to be like everyone else and we actually embrace the different. That’s what makes us who we are,” he said. “What we do here is organic and sincere.”

What really makes them who they are is the coffee, pastries and light sandwiches that keep a steady stream of customers coming in throughout the day. The menu is extensive but they are known for their Das KaffeeHaus German blend, a brew that is derived from a German recipe that dates back to 1632 in Aachen, Germany. They say the proprietary blend is a light roast by American standards and a much different experience than most US coffee drinkers have come to expect from a chain coffee shop.

They are also known for their Schwarzenegger Austrian Roast, Blitzkrieg French Roast and D’Allessandro Italian Espresso Roast. The menu includes some specialty teas, smoothies and hand dipped Velvet Ice Cream from nearby Utica, Ohio. Like in Germany, real ice cream is used in their Frappe’ called the Frostlatte and in a drink called an Eis Kaffee – A coffee/ice cream float where hot coffee is poured over your favorite ice cream and topped with whipped cream. The Eis Kaffee happens to be the most popular coffee drink in Germany.

Daily specials offer regulars the opportunity to try something different.

Amy said the coffee is the star of the show here but they also offer pastries that are handmade daily as well as some simple sandwiches. Pastries you may find in their case include cream puffs, turnovers, strudels and Bavarian pretzels, complete with their German and American names proudly displayed. She did admit that marrying German traditions and the American palette can be a challenge. “We tend to expect things to be sweet but pastries in Germany tend to be not at all sweet so we’ve had to make some adjustments,” she explained.

They do not claim to run an authentic German business in the heart of Ohio. Instead, they have taken the best of the German café concept and tried to make it a fun, delicious experience for a consumer who is looking for a bit of culture and something different with their coffee.

Listeners of 99.7 the Blitz Radio in Columbus know that they’re the official coffee of the Blitz and have likely heard Joseph read funny and sometimes edgy copy as Herr Joseph. They are also developing a beer garden that will be located behind the coffee shop and that they hope to have ready for Oktoberfest 2021. They are open to speaking with anyone interested in franchising and investment opportunities as well.

To get the full Das KauffeeHaus von Frau Burkhart experience, stop by 45 East Columbus Street in Lithopolis. Follow them on Facebook for the latest news or visit them online for hours, menu and to hear some of Herr Joseph’s radio spots.

Small Business Spotlight: Castaways Restaurant

Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month!

This month we are excited to feature Castaways Restaurant in Lancaster, an iconic eatery high on the hill “above the fairgrounds” as the advertisements used to say.  Established over seventy years ago at this very location, Castaways is a Lancaster staple.

While some necessary changes have been made through the years, the meat and potatoes of the restaurant remains the same – the food!  Fresh steaks, chops, and burgers sourced from Bay Food Market accompany a wide variety of seafood, sandwiches, salads, and stone-baked pizzas on the menu.  Their legendary Prime Rib Wednesdays, held bi-weekly, have been satisfying crowds who come in to “eat at the butcher’s house” for decades.

For as long as anyone can remember, the Kraft family has been connected to the historic restaurant.  The connection, first through the Bay farm and then through Bay Food Market, eventually led to Bay Food Market owner David Kraft buying the restaurant in 1997 when original owner Fred Eaton decided to sell.

For many years the restaurant stuck with what worked in more than just the kitchen.  Traditional marketing tactics were used to promote the restaurant and word of mouth was heavily relied upon.  However, in recent years as David’s daughter Micole Ruff has taken on more responsibility with the family business, she’s made the marketing side one of her top priorities.  Step #1 was to make social media a serious part of their strategy.

With an eye for photography, Micole posts to social media nearly every day, whether it be photos on Instagram or updates and shout outs on Facebook.  On Sundays and Mondays, when the restaurant is closed, she even makes an effort to shout out other local businesses and establishments.

Like everyone else, the business had to evolve last year because of the challenges that came with the pandemic. “We just did what they told us we needed to do,” Micole said, referring to operating a restaurant amidst a global pandemic.  “We really didn’t have a choice.  But we were lucky that we already had a good amount of carry-out business before this all happened.”  The already-established base of their carryout business, she says, is a large reason why their temporary but mandatory shift to carry-out only service was successful.

Then they experimented with bringing in musicians to play on the patio for the guests dining outdoors on summer and autumn Prime Rib Wednesdays.  That went from experiment to official part of the schedule each week almost immediately.  Now, musicians are lining up to play once the weather breaks this year. The calendar is already booked through May.

One of the most publicized efforts over the past year was the opening of their kitchen to Jamie Mast, owner of The Original Jimmy’s Jawbreaker concession trailer, another legendary staple of the local dining community.  Several times throughout 2021, Jamie was able to come in and cook alongside the Castaways crew in the kitchen.  On these special nights, the Original Jimmy’s Jawbreaker burgers and homemade cannolis were offered alongside the full Castaway’s menu.  Doing something a little bit different offered a lift to the business.  “Jamie and her businesses have been long time customers so it was a natural fit to partner with her for something like this.  It was great for all of us!”

With seventy years of experience preparing delicious food, Castaways has a loyal fan base beating a path to the off-the-beaten path restaurant above the city. They invite newcomers to follow their lead and discover what all the fuss is about when people gush about their delectable fresh cut meats, homemade dressings and stone baked pizzas.

Visit Castaways at 1500 North High Street in Lancaster. You can also find them on Facebook or Instagram and view their full menu on their website.  Dine in or carry out your dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays and don’t forget to pre-order your Wednesday prime rib feast a day ahead of time!

Small Business Spotlight: Made On Main

Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month!

Nothing makes a crafter happier than a fun project, unique supplies and someone to share it all with. Made on Main in Ashville provides all that, even finding ways to keep people connected and happily crafting through the pandemic.

When asked about her store, owner Tiffany Jackson has a long list of reasons why her store is so special why it is drawing customers from all over the region and beyond. “There aren’t a lot of local craft stores around and we are different than your typical big box craft store because we carry different items. What really sets us apart is that we partner with other small businesses to sell brands that you can’t find everywhere else,” she explained.

While Made on Main specializes in paper crafts like scrapbooking and card making, they also holdclasses on mosaics, quilting, painting, knitting, crochet and beyond. “If it sounds like fun, we are willing to give it a try,” she exclaimed

In addition to raw materials, the store offers kits for a variety of projects including things like cards, applique, wall hangings or mini albums. “For example, a kit might include everything you need to make six to ten cards. Everything is pre-cut and there is a picture of the completed project and instructions so you can make it look just like my finished project or you can do your own thing,” she said. “This way, you can make a variety of things without being stuck with a lot of leftover materials.”

The store actually started a few years ago when Tiffany began hosting classes and make-and-take parties in her home. These events grew so much in popularity that she outgrew her home and badly needed space. When the old apothecary building in Ashville became available, it was a clear choice for her growing business. Now, the store has plenty of space for classes, crops and even a party rental room.

Day long crops give crafters opportunity to gather with others to work on their projects. For those who need or want some more direction, classes are offered as well.

While the pandemic has made events and gatherings much more challenging, it has also created opportunity for crafters to spend more time working on projects at home. “When we were closed earlier this year, I had people knocking on my door asking for projects so we started putting together more kits, things they could do at home.”

They also began doing online classes, offering curbside pick-up and doing more online business.

In addition, the store offers some handmade items that would make great stocking stuffers and gifts. Baby quilts, dog scarves and pillows are just a few of the handmade gift items that can be found on the store’s second floor.

Gift cards are available too.

All of this combined keeps customers coming back, not just from Ashville but from much further away. “We are a small town but we are just fifteen minutes from Columbus so we get customers from Grove City, Canal Winchester, from all over because we are just so different from the big box craft stores,” she said.

She actually organized a shop hop with several other craft stores in the area this summer. For a small fee, participants could visit each store to receive a discount and a make-and-take project that could be completed in person at the store or taken home for later. ‘It was so popular, we already have dates for 2021. People loved it and we loved it because we met new friends!”

The next Shop Hop will be July 1 through August 14, 2021 and participants can buy their tickets online in the coming months.

Tiffany isn’t just community minded when it comes to crafting. She also is holding a fundraiser to help with the construction of Ashville’s new food pantry. She is raffling two die cut machines – the Big Shot, valued at $120, and the Big Shot Foldaway, valued at $160. Raffle tickets are $5 each and can be purchased on their website or at the store. The drawing will be held at 3 p.m. on December 5.

Made on Main also has big plans for Small Business Saturday on November 28 so be sure to stop by for some early Christmas shopping and to stock up on projects and supplies for yourself this winter!

“Crafting is how I decompress and it’s wonderful helping others and bringing together others who love to craft,” Tiffany said. “When someone pops in to say hello because they were here once and enjoyed it that makes my day.”

Made on Main is located at 4 East Main Street in Ashville. Call 740.983.6777, follow them on Facebook or shop online.

Small Business Spotlight: Casa Del Taco

Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month!

Since 1984, Casa Del Taco has been one of Chillicothe’s signature flavors. The family owned business offers up fast casual Mexican food in two locations.

Owner Bill Barker said they set themselves apart from other restaurants in town with made-to-order food that uses fresh, high quality ingredients. “Everything is very fresh and we make it when you order it. We make our own sauces, avocado dressing, and chicken tortilla soup from scratch using our own recipes,” he explained.

Lean ground beef, real cheese, and fresh vegetables are just some of the delicious ingredients used to make their signature dishes. “We sell more regular tacos than anything but we are known for a lot of things,” he said as he began to list popular dishes like their Mexican Chef Salad with homemade avocado dressing, burritos and Casadillas which is their version of the quesadilla. “We want to be proud of the product we serve and one way we do that is to start with the best ingredients.”

That pride in work has been instilled in the entire family. Bill and his wife Tammy have four grown sons who are all involved in the business. Three work for Casa Del Taco while their youngest son manages the Old Canal Smoke House which they purchased in 2013. “I’m proud that they all chose to stay and help. It isn’t the easiest business in the world but we all love what we do and love serving great meals to people,” he said.

When they opened their first location on Bridge Street, the landscape of this now busy street was much different. At the time there were only about eight restaurants. Today there are close to eighty and growing.

As the city has grown, so has Casa Del Taco. They opened a second location near Kroger on Western Avenue, making it easier for residents on that side of town to obtain their “Casa Del fix.” In fact, the restaurant is a favorite first stop for many former residents when they visit town as well as a destination for people all over the region who have fallen in love with the food. “It’s pretty neat when someone says they drove from far away just to eat your food.”

While Bill is quick to admit that the restaurant industry is a challenging one, he said the complications caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have made it even more difficult. They were able to remain open with pick up services at Old Canal and drive-thru services at Casa Del Taco but traffic was diminished during these months.

They also have had to negotiate challenges like supply chain issues and staffing shortages. “Things that we bought for years suddenly weren’t available. Pork was harder to find because of meat shortages. It was just a real challenging time.”

The company employs about eighty people but they do have some openings available. “We are blessed to have such a great staff but things would go better if we had a few more people. But the people we have, I can’t say enough good about them. They’re rock stars, they’re soldiers, they’re so loyal to what we are doing and we are truly fortunate to have them,” he said.

Casa Del Taco is located at 1055 North Bridge Street and at 1360 Western Avenue in Chillicothe. The Western Avenue location is currently still drive thru only due to the dining room size but the Bridge Street location is open for dine-in or drive-thru. Find them online at www.gottagetyourcasa.com.

Small Business Spotlight: Ohio Steel Recycling

Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month!

Have some scrap metal in your way? Ohio Steel Recycling will be glad to take it off your hands and pay you for it too.

The company buys a long list of scrap metals from both commercial businesses and individuals. “We don’t care if you bring us a truck full of junk cars or just a trunk full of scrap from around your yard. We’re happy to take it all and will pay you for it,” owner John Belcher said. “That’s better than letting it sit in your way!”

They buy scrap metal that can be upgraded into materials to sell for recycling. For example, junk cars go through a process where they are drained of all fluids including gas and oil before the exhaust, wheels, tires and catalytic converter are removed. The metals and rubber can be recycled while the fluids like gas and oil must be properly disposed of by EPA standards. The car is then run through a compacter before being sold to another facility that will shred and separate the metals for recycling into other useful products.

This is helpful to the environment as it is more eco-friendly friendly to reuse metals than it is to mine more. It also prevents tons of materials from hitting landfills. “The environment would be a lot worse without places like this. Imagine if all this was sitting in a dump somewhere,” he said, gesturing to the hundreds of crushed cars that are stacked and waiting to be hauled off for recycling.

Cars are stripped of hazardous and valuable materials before being compacted and hauled away to be shredded. The shredded metals may be recycled and made into useful products.

But they take more than cars. They accept all sorts of junk vehicles and equipment as well as other items like appliances, copper wire and tubing, iron and steel scrap, aluminum scrap, cast iron, lead, brass and brass alloys, zinc and zinc alloys, demolition scrap, and industrial and manufacturing scrap. The list is quite long and includes almost everything metal.

For the average person, this could mean garage doors, metal siding, old plumbing, a car part or the refrigerator they just replaced.

There are some exceptions. They don’t take anything hazardous, toxic or radioactive. They don’t take any closed containers under pressure like propane or gas cylinders, fire extinguishers or aerosol cans that could explode. Liquids including gas, oil, paint, propane and water aren’t accepted either.

Copper wire that has been stripped from tubing awaits recycling.

Used bullets from a local gun range are among salvage materials that most people wouldn’t even think of as an opportunity to recycle. Copper wire is stripped from tubing, appliances are dismantled and everything that can be recycled is prepared to be trucked out to their next step in the recycling process.

John is always on the lookout for ways to expand the business and said they are about to begin accepting aluminum cans. “Aluminum cans are sort of a break even commodity for us but if it helps the customer, I think we should do it,” he said. “Besides, if they’re bringing us cans, they may realize this is a good place to bring other things.”

One customer hauled in an assortment of metal scrap in a bathtub. “You see all kinds of things in this line of work,” laughed John Belcher.

He works to keep his area as neat as possible given their line of work and encourages employees to remember “just because we’re a junkyard doesn’t mean we have to look like a junkyard!”  He went on to say “people don’t want to bring their nice cars into a bad place. Besides, we want to be good neighbors and keep things as clean as possible.”

John is also conscious of how the pandemic has impacted his business as well as other people and businesses. “It’s been a hard time for a lot of people. We closed for a couple of months and used the time to do some projects here. We’re open again but we’re not back to where we were in April. Honestly, I’m just looking forward to when things get better.”

John and his wife Dusty work together. They’ve been married for twenty years and have seven kids and five grandkids. He’s a Columbus native, living now in Grove City, but looking forward to someday moving back to the country near Stoutsville. He chats freely about the business, family and about finding a work-life balance. “Life is short and it’s important to appreciate the people in your life and the time that you have. Work is important and I really like what I do but you have to enjoy life to its fullest. Every day is important and I need to do better for sure but I’m trying,” he said.

Ohio Steel Recycling is located at 13141 National Road, Etna. Call them at 740.927.5384 and visit them online at www.ohiosteelrecycling.com.

Small Business Spotlight: Perfect Weddings

Small businesses are vital to our communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

beautiful dressWhen it comes to wedding planning, there is nothing more exciting or more stressful than choosing the right dress. Fortunately, local brides have a secret weapon at Perfect Weddings. Here Ellen Rickett uses her experience to help brides select just the right wedding gown and everything else she needs for the bridal party to wear.

In 35 years Ellen has refined her abilities for helping a bride choose the dress that makes them feel the most beautiful while carefully working within her budget. However, there is more to Perfect Weddings than just the bride’s dress. In fact, the relationship a bride and her bridal party develop with the Perfect Weddings staff only begins with dress selection.

“We will help a girl find the dress but it doesn’t end there. A lot of the larger stores will sell you a dress and send you out the door but we facilitate the storage, alterations and pressing. We like to give them one less thing to worry about.”

Perfect Weddings exteriorThe 7,000 square foot facility encompasses two floors of a tudor style shop on Memorial Drive in Lancaster. It is practically a wonderland of wedding gowns, bridal party gowns, homecoming and prom dresses. They also offer tuxedo rentals, jewelry, veils, shoes, garters and even fun socks to prevent the groom from getting cold feet.

Ellen and her daughter Kim started the business after Kim graduated college. They began with just $4,000 and a small shop on East Main Street. Today Kim manages the business while Ellen works directly with customers. However, Ellen doesn’t talk about them like they’re customers. She clearly takes a personal interest in each, making certain their individual experience is pleasant.

“The dress is the first thing you need when planning a wedding and there’s a lot of pressure to find the right one. Every bride wants the perfect dress and it’s my job to help them find it.”

One thing that makes Perfect Weddings unique is that they have three in-house seamstresses who they affectionately call “Angels” because they are known for performing miracles. The Angels perform all alterations on site so that dresses never leave the building until they are picked up for the wedding. “That’s important because they aren’t being shipped off for alterations and stored next to countless other dresses from other stores. We keep the dresses here, make the alterations and continue to store them until the wedding,” she said.

Dresses are even pressed by hand before they leave on the big day.

PressingPandemic related closures have created difficulties for the event business as most gatherings have been cancelled or postponed. “We went from 118 tux rentals in one weekend to none the following weekend,” she recalled. “It was a domino effect of tragedy for the kids, the brides, for us, our designers and distributors, the venues, for everyone involved.”

“Some girls had pictures taken in their prom dresses or had private mini proms with friends. Many weddings have been postponed until fall or until next year and we are here to help them, to help alleviate some worry as we will keep their dresses safe until they’re ready.”

Alleviating stress and worry is a common theme when Ellen discusses their work. “Planning a wedding can be stressful. For many girls, they’ve never planned an event so large. It’s a lot of work, a lot of details, a lot to worry about and we want to ensure that they aren’t worried about their dresses. We aim to give them one less thing to worry about.”

beautiful dress 2Money is another focus for Ellen as she strives to work within any budget. They typically have some dresses on sale for as little as $99 and the range of cost goes up to $2,300. They do offer a payment plan, a service that she said most bridal stores no longer provide.

“I never want to encourage a bride to go over her budget. I don’t work on commission so I have no reason to push something that someone cannot afford,” she explained. “The true reward is that moment when you turn her around to see herself in the mirror and she smiles. She smiles and sometimes tears will flow down her cheek because she knows this is the dress, the one she’s dreamed of. That’s why we do this.”

Ellen speaks with a bride before she comes in for her consultation. “Most girls have an idea of what they want. They know they want long sleeves or strapless or that they want a lot of bling. I talk with them about their desires and about their budget so that I can have some dresses ready for them when they come in.”

With over 600 styles under one roof, finding the right dress sounds intimidating but she said it typically takes just one visit and four to five dresses to find the one they love. “It’s the feeling they have in it. You can tell them they look good but if they don’t feel good, if they don’t feel beautiful, it’s not their dress.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ellen said their business has seen everything. Brides come from all over Ohio and across the country, often by referral. Weddings are sometimes very small or may have a dozen bridesmaids. They have done weddings for four sisters and are currently helping the third sister in another family. “It’s special when they think so much of us they are bringing a family member here.”

Perfect Weddings is located at 430 North Memorial Drive, Lancaster and is available by appointment by calling 740.654.4696. Visit them at perfectweddingsbridal.com and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.