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New Restaurant Opens in Downtown Covington

On 5th Street in Covington, cultures collide in a new restaurant that features a Philly cheese steak egg roll as its signature dish.

The 5th Street Grill opened its doors this week and owner Sallie Schultz is ready to offer the city the cooking skills she’s learned from her Korean family, mixed with her West Virginia upbringing.

“My family just likes to eat, so we cook and play around with stuff. That’s how we come up with our creations. We already did our traditional cabbage egg rolls and then watching the food network and things like that, gave us the idea of Philly egg roll,” Schultz said.\

She first cracked into the restaurant business in Charleston, West Virginia at a storefront near the bar she worked in. Before that, she worked in construction.

“At the bar I used to work at didn’t sell food, so we actually cooked outside with our fryers and propane and everything. Then we found a restaurant up the street and we opened it and that’s how it started. I was a cement mason before the restaurant, I’m a jack of all trades,” she said.

She ended up in Covington after Charleston’s water supply was contaminated with chemicals in 2014. After what she calls the water crises, Schultz and Donald Williams looked at other locations to keep their egg roll operation up and running. 

“With the water crises and his family living up here in Cincinnati, we found this place on Craigslist because the we were renting from the building that was sold and we could have chosen to stay there or leave and because we had the option, but we decided to look around we found this place,” Schultz said. “I came and took a look at it and asked to come inside and make sure all the equipment was working but  otherwise we brought what we had with us: equipment, coolers, booths, stuff like that.”

The location is 14 East 5th Street in the space that most recently housed the coffeehouse Blend and before that Pizza Bomba, Flippin' Jimmy's, Wolf & Co., and Red Light.

Now that they have their space and are open for business, The 5th Street Grill is anxious to get customer feedback to make the proper adjustments tailored exactly to the demands of local diners. While the menu features burgers, wings, soul food sides and ribs in addition to the egg rolls, Schultz is more than willing to make the changes necessary to accommodate the interests of the community.

“This is just a start-up menu. I have a comment and suggestion box for customers. I have been told I need to get goetta. I’ve never had it, so I want to try it before I sell it. I can maybe make a breakfast egg roll with it. Once I get more people coming in, I will do more specials outside of the menu. I like Caribbean food like ox tail and Caribbean chicken with rice and beans. Also home cooked traditional meals like meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans.”

For now, The 5th Street Grill is focused on carryout and delivery to nearby businesses in Covington with minimal dining in arrangements inside, but the hope is that once Schultz and Williams become more rooted in the area, they can begin to hire employees that would facilitate more of a dining in experience.

“What we have been told is that if you make it past the two year mark, you’re good. Unless I had no customers to the point where I can’t pay the rent, then I would have to look at other options, but I feel confident about my food because I’m a little bit of a picky eater. I’m not so confident to think that I don’t make mistakes, because if someone gets something they don’t think is right, I want them to let me know so that I can correct it. I hope I get busy enough to be able to hire a couple of employees: a cashier, a cook, I might want a day off. I’m hoping that we get busy enough to where I can provide jobs for the community.”

For now, the restaurant is only open for lunch and dinner, but the hiring of more employees could also allow breakfasts and brunches to become a possibility in the future.  

“I do breakfast food, all day though. A lot of people said that I need to do breakfast and lunch, but walking around getting to know the place, everybody serves breakfast, but not everybody stays open for dinner. I may in the spring time consider giving breakfasts a shot. I don’t want to stretch myself too far because that would be more stuff to prep. It’s not like I order frozen stuff and cook it,” Schultz said.

The 5th Street Grill offers a 10 percent discount to Gateway students and staff, city service workers, and active and inactive members of the military and armed services with a valid photo ID.

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor