The Ontario House is Youngstown's longest operating business
By Jennifer Pauly
Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce has announced The Ontario House, aka "Stone Jug," is the recipient of the Youngstown Business of the Year Award.
The Youngstown Business and Professional Association assisted the chamber in providing a business nominee that has shown dedication and service to the Youngstown community.
The building, at 385 Main St., has been known as a bar/restaurant and hotel since 1842. There has been an establishment on the property since before the War of 1812.
The British burned down the original building during the War of 1812. The current building was built back in 1842 and made completely out of stone to ensure it would never become victim to another fire again. Eddy Wojcik and his family have been the proprietors of the long-standing establishment since 1929. In 1934, Wojcik's great-grandmother, grandmother and grandfather were granted the first liquor license in New York state.
In March 1977, Wojcik began operating The Ontario House. It was a natural fit, as he grew up helping his grandparents around the bar and started tending at 16 years old. Today, the bar is still run as a family affair with Wojcik, his brothers Martin and Andrew, and his mother, Eugenia (at 88 years young), coming in daily at lunchtime to help out.
The Ontario House, aka "Stone Jug."
Lunch is served six days a week and features fresh, homemade soups and desserts, burgers, deli sandwiches and patty melts. The "Stone Jug" is open every day starting at 11 a.m., except Monday (3 p.m. opening).
Word-of-mouth has continued to be the best way to advertise. Serving consistently good food and providing a fun atmosphere has kept customers coming back.
People continue to use the shuffleboard next to the bar. It has been there since 1957. A new addition to the bar is a digital music jukebox providing hundreds of musical selections. Wi-Fi also is available at the bar.
Annual events include a St. Patrick's Day celebration during the Youngstown parade, a Halloween party, "Summer of '69" and Youngstown Business and Professional Association meetings. Support also is given to programs for children, including the Lewiston-Porter music scholarship program.
The "Stone Jug" customers range from the local crowd to sailors from all over the U.S. visiting for events. Many customers have become like family to the staff. Having a business in a small community creates a special connection, as everyone knows one another. There are not many "corner bars" around anymore and that is just what The Ontario House is: a place where anyone can feel at home.
YBPA President Cheryl Butera said it best.
"The Ontario House, aka 'The Stone Jug,' is Youngstown's longest-standing business. Eddy and Eugenia and family don't even require a last name. ... When you say their names, everybody knows who you're talking about," she said. "The Youngstown Business and Professional Association is more than proud to bestow Business of the Year 2015 on this jewel within the heart of the Village of Youngstown. Long live the Jug!"
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce and the Youngstown Business and Professional Association proudly congratulate The Ontario House as the 2015 Youngstown Business of the Year.