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Six Small Businesses to Receive Covington Incentives

The Covington city commission is expected to improve incentives for six small businesses on Tuesday night.Yard bar and food container park.

“COVID continues to challenge us all, but we are still laser-focused on supporting Covington's small-business growth, filling storefront vacancies, improving the look and feel of our neighborhoods, and adding to the ‘walkability’ of the city,” said Ross Patten, Covington’s assistant economic development director. “This is a good mix of projects that will add to the energy in three different neighborhoods.”

The $36,000 in incentives leaves $75,300 on the table for the fourth round of funding this fiscal year, Patten said. People have until April 30 to apply for financial help with first-year rent or façade improvements through the Small Business Program, as seen here.

With the approval of these six projects, the city incentive program will have helped 61 small businesses since the beginning of 2018.

-RP Prop OZ LLC will receive a $6,000 forgivable loan toward $122,700 in exterior improvements to 314 Greenup St. That work is part of a significantly larger project: The owners of Blinkers Tavern steakhouse next door, Sandy Meyer and Gary Ginn, are opening Governors House Wine Bar + Kitchen in the former home of John W. Stevenson (who served as Kentucky’s governor, a Congressman and U.S. Senator in the latter part of the 19th Century).

“The building was sitting empty a good eight years or more, just looking lost, but now that we’ve painted it (and done other work), it’s come to life,” Sandy Meyer said. She said the project is on pace for a mid-June opening.

Among the features inside: about 90 seats on two floors, a 22-foot-long bar with high-top seating, three fireplaces, and a separate kitchen serving large and small plates. Exterior work has or will include a new floating deck with up-lighting, a stamped-paver patio, rebuilt cornices, updated windows and doors, painting, and landscaping.

-Gabe of KY, LLC will receive a $6,000 forgivable loan toward a $12,250 upgrade of the exterior of the Green Lantern Café at 3938 Decoursey Ave. The Latonia landmark – which reportedly dates to the 1930s – was bought by Ed and Eddie Gabriel in 2011 as a family-run business, and they’ve strenuously renovated it inside and out, Ed Gabriel said.

Over the years, work has included new hardwood floors, a new 25-seat horseshoe-shaped bar to connect the existing bars, opening up a 9-foot ceiling on one side to make it 20 feet high, improvements to the patio bar area, a new roof and windows on the second floor, and new vinyl siding.

The new exterior work includes signage, turning a glass block window into a traditional window, painting, a new back gate, and gutter improvements.

“Our goal is to provide the community with reasonably priced quality food which now includes pizza as a new item,” Gabriel said. “We are committed to upholding the local values of this community and striving to improve our presence.”

- Pike Partners, LLC would receive two $6,000 forgivable loans – toward $36,750 in exterior work at 34 W. Pike St. and toward $27,000 in exterior work at 36 W. Pike St. next door.

Pike Partners will use Covington contractors for both projects, which include painting, lighting, signage, a renovated storefront, and masonry repairs, and other work.

Both are part of separate $178,000 renovations that will to turn vacant buildings on a primary business corridor into move-in ready space for retail and office users.

Rent subsidies:

The two first-year rent subsidies are each for $6,000 (spread over a year) for two restaurateurs who – amid the pandemic – opened new food establishments late last year in the shipping containers at Covington Yard. Both signed two-year leases and employ a handful of people as part of their quick-dining concepts in the “food container park” and entertainment venue at 401 Greenup St.

  • Morgan and Bill Whitlow, the owners of Rich’s Proper Food & Drink at 701 Madison Ave., opened Hangry Omar’s, which serves sliders and fries.
  •  Bruce Kim, the owner of Riverside Korean Restaurant at 512 Madison Ave., opened Mr. Bulgogi, which serves Korean BBQ in a cup.

“Covington Yard is a cool place whose outdoor seating has probably felt reassuring to a lot of people during the pandemic, and I predict it’s really going to take off once more people are vaccinated and the threat subsides some more,” Patten said.

The rent subsidy program offers a grant of up to $500 a month for first-year rent. The façade program is a forgivable loan of up to $6,000 to match investment dollar-for-dollar in exterior improvements to a commercial building.

Businesses who are interested in applying for either façade or rent programs should contact Patten at (859) 292-2144 or [email protected]. The applications themselves and information about the programs can be found on the City’s website at the link above.

-Staff report

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