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YBPA names Ontario House as 2022 Business of the Year

Fri, Jun 17th 2022 11:00 am

Submitted by Colleen Johnson Summerville

The Youngstown Business Professional Association has announced The Ontario House, aka the “Stone Jug,” as its 2022 Business of the Year.

The honor pays tribute to an establishment that has been part of the Village of Youngstown fabric for decades.

Owners Mike and Barbara Costello have operated the Stone Jug since 2015. Previously owned by the Wojcik family, it has been a local establishment since 1931. When Ed Wojcik sold his establishment, he found a family who would maintain the integrity of the Stone Jug as a comfortable gathering place for the community.

Under the management of son Peter Costello, the inside structure was renovated and successfully opened to the public. The Stone Jug began offering pub fare for lunch and dinner, and the second and third floor rooms were renovated and made available for overnight reservations to visitors.

Peter’s skill was an integral part of building a strong foundation for the Stone Jug’s future. With five bedrooms (seven beds), and three baths upstairs, one can reserve by room or suite, or both floors through Airbnb. Son Nathan Costello manages both the kitchen and room reservations. As the Stone Jug moved forward, Chris Harden was brought in as manager, and has assisted in hiring a strong supportive staff and bringing in great musical talent.

In 2020, the Costello family was faced with the difficulties of running an establishment during the pandemic. With mandated protocols in place, Mike Costello used his creative and innovating talent to keep the Stone Jug open and safe. Staging musical acts in the inside back room was no longer an option, so an outside tent was put up. Space was cleared and the outside area became roomy and comfortable.

As plans developed, Mike was fortunate to obtain strong wooden beams from the O’Brien’s family’s old barn. Bringing old barn wood to life, a new pavilion was built with a beautiful new stage. Son Matt Costello helped to build this structure and works on all projects related to the grounds and building at the Ontario House.

Mike Costello will tell you “it’s all about Youngstown,” and his family supports all local venues both new and old. The Stone Jug participates in local activities and is supportive of community efforts. With open mic on Wednesdays, music on weekends, Sunday family days in the summer, and Buffalo Bills games in the fall, one can enjoy themselves all year round at this Youngstown gathering spot.

As Barb Costello says, “We want this to be a welcoming and comfortable place for people to be,” and that is one of the many reasons why the Stone Jug is the YBPA 2022 Business of the Year.

YBPA members nominate their choice for Business of the Year, then the top three go on a secret ballot for voting. The winner is announced, and the award is presented at the fall meeting in September. This year’s presentation will be held at the Officer’s Club in Fort Niagara on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

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