Hotel Covington's restaurant features walk-up window, 'jewel box' dining area

Posted at 5:00 AM, Sep 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-27 07:13:31-04

COVINGTON -- A 106-year-old seven-story building on Madison Avenue and Seventh Street will open Tuesday as Hotel Covington, a boutique hotel two years in the making.

This is the building’s third act, having first been a fashionable department store and more recently the Covington City Building. Now under the Salyers Group’s ownership, Hotel Covington will offer 114 rooms and a 4,000-square-foot restaurant and bar named after the building’s high-end retail past, Coppin’s.

The restaurant, located on the first floor of the hotel, features a dining area encased in 1,400 square feet of glass, reminiscent of a greenhouse that has the look of a jewel box.

RELATED: Photos: Peek inside Coppin's


Executive chef Brendan Haren will oversee all manner of food operations, including the restaurant, in-room dining, banquets and a walk-up window. As the former executive sous chef of the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, Haren knows the hotel dining terrain well and is ready to lead his own charge on this new enterprise.

“We’re ready to rock and roll,” he said.

Haren describes the food as “hyperlocal elevated” (but approachable) American fare that celebrates both the North and the South. He’s not kidding when he says hyperlocal, and he doesn’t just mean the food either; the chef personally crafted the serving boards for the restaurant.

“I salvaged a bunch of the original floor joists … put them through my planer, then routed the edges,” he said. “We’ll do charcuterie and cheeses on them.”

Menu items will include the Chef Burger with Boone Creek cheddar and bacon marmalade; Father’s Country ham with biscuits and bourbon honey; and bobwhite quail with corn pudding, sorghum and cracked pepper.

Haren intends to source locally from growers like Sheltowee Farm, Hill Family Farm and Carriage House Farm as much as possible. He also plans to go through Ohio Valley Food Connection for an even wider selection of local ingredients.

Buying locally is not unfamiliar to Haren, considering the “buy local” culture at the Hilton, where he previously worked. He said his penchant for sourcing locally fully aligns with the philosophy of local collaboration and culture followed by Aparium, the Chicago-based group that manages Hotel Covington.

In that spirit, the restaurant also chose local purveyors such as Volcano Goods to tailor the front-of-the-house uniform and Lucca Laser Workshop to supply items like menu boards. Other local purveyors include Sunshine Caramel, Maverick Chocolate and Carabello Coffee.

The restaurant and bar will seat roughly 130, with additional seating in the courtyard. Food and drink also will be available in the open-lobby lounge, which has seating for 40 more.

Another place to dine is “The Library,” an intimate event space that will house family-style Sunday suppers. The chef also will use it to host guest chef dinners and collaboration dinners with local breweries like Braxton and MadTree.

One of the more intriguing dining options is the walk-up window. It opens to an alley and offers guests and passers-by street-side food and drink at (nearly) all hours. The window will open early on weekday mornings and stay open late if there are late weekend shows at the Madison Theater.

If the window looks like a food truck window, well, it is. Haren said he bought a food truck window to add to the street food vibe. The grab-and-go food offerings will rotate, which Haren said “will give the cooks a chance to do some fun stuff.”

William Grise, formerly of the Pho Lang Thang Group, will serve as director of food and beverage. The 17-seat bar will offer craft beer, cider, wine and craft cocktails. In-room private bars include large format cocktail mixers from Gents Original out of Lexington, Kentucky, and New Riff Distilling’s O.K.I. bourbon specially sized, bottled and labeled for Hotel Covington.

Braxton Brewing also is working on a collaborative amber ale that will be sold only at Hotel Covington, said Jack Olshan, Hotel Covington’s general manager.  

Coppin’s Restaurant and Bar

638 Madison Ave., Covington
Breakfast: 6:30-10:30 a.m. Monday-Friday and 6:30-11 a.m. Saturday-Sunday; brunch: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; lunch: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Sunday; dinner: 5-9 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 5-10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.
Food is available at the bar until 11 p.m.
Sunday supper: Two seatings at 5 and 7 p.m.
In-room dining is available from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Grace Yek writes about food for WCPO Digital. She is a certified chef-de-cuisine with the American Culinary Federation, and a former chemical engineer. Questions or comments? Connect with her on Twitter: @Grace_Yek.