Here are the winners of the Commerce, Places and Nightlife categories in the 2021 Best of Athens Reader's Choice Awards.
Winners of the People, Foodies' Favorites and Miscellaneous categories were announced last week and can be viewed here.
Editor's note: The entry associated with the "Public Servant" category, published last week, has been updated to reflect a correction in the nature of the Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund. The fund supports the efforts of the Athens County Food Pantry, which also created the fund in partnership with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.
Adherence to COVID-19 protocol
O’Bleness Memorial Hospital
A new category this year, “Adherence to COVID-19 protocol” top honors go to OhioHealth O’Bleness Memorial hospital. Taking home second place is Seaman’s Cardinal Super Market, and third place goes to Athens Eye Care.
Most health conscious business
Robertson Heating Supply Co.
Hey, another new category this year: “Most health conscious business.” This was rather open to interpretation to our voters, and they took it in a few directions. Robertson Heating Supply Co., whose Athens office is located on Columbus Road, placed first. Second place goes to Kindred Market, which sits on East State Street, and third place goes to Shriver Pharmacy and Wellness Center, which can be found on West Union Street.
The Import House, located on Court Street, is the smoke shop voters favored in this year’s contest. Coming in second place, however, is Smoke Zone Smoke Shop, located on Court Street. Third place goes to Silver Serpent Exotic Gifts (the Court Street location).
Bobcat Rentals won first place in this year’s Student Housing category, and voters also recognized Cornwell Properties and Best of Athens Rentals as leading student housing providers.
Shrivers Pharmacy and Wellness Center
Shrivers Pharmacy and Wellness Center was voted the best pharmacy in Athens this year. Second place honors fo to Fruth Pharmacy, which is located in Athens and Nelsonville. Third place goes to Kroger, which also has Nelsonville and Athens locations.
Local Rental Company
The top rental company in this year’s contest is Bobcat Rentals, which also placed as top Student Housing provider. Our second place winner is Bedrock Tool Rental, located on West Union Street. Third place this year goes to The Athens Real Estate Company
Place to Buy a Car in Athens County
Don Wood Automotive
For the fourth straight year, Don Wood Automotive is the best place in the county to buy a car. Second place honors go to Hugh White Honda, located on Columbus Road, and third place goes to Tink’s Auto Trading Post LLC, which can be found in Millfield.
Athens Farmers Market
The Athens Farmers Market, which took up space in the The Market on State for part of the pandemic but is yet again outdoors, won first place in the Best of Athens Reader’s Choice Awards this year. This isn’t surprising, as its a great source for locally-produced goods.
Second place goes to Seaman’s Cardinal Super Market, and third place goes to Kindred Market.
Veterinarian Clinic Kroner Animal Clinic
Kroner Animal Clinic yet again takes home the title of best veterinarian clinic in Athens County.
Following close behind was Allen Pet Clinic, and following close behind that was The Plains Veterinary Hospital.
Local Auto Repair Shop
Alvis Auto Repair
The top three auto repair shops in the county are the same as they were last year, placing in the same order, no less. Alvis Auto Repair received the most votes, followed by Huddle Tire and Auto and Muffler Man.
Hyacinth Bean Florist
Our top florists are the same lineup and same order as last year: Hyacinth Bean Florist is still the leading source of beautiful floral arrangements, followed by Jack Neal Floral and the Kroger floral department.
Place to Find Hard-to-Find Items
The places to find hard-to-find items in Athens County are, luckily, not hard to find. White’s Mill is located on White’s Mill Drive off of South Plains Road, and it received the most votes in this year’s Best of Athens contest for this category. Second place goes to C&E True Value Hardware, located on Richland Avenue. Third place goes to Hazel Reese Vintage Market, which can be found in The Plains.
Ohio University Credit Union
The top financial institution in the area for another year is Ohio University Credit Union. Voters also nodded to Ohio Valley Bank and Hocking Valley Bank in this year’s Best of Athens Reader’s Choice Awards.
Customer Service Retailer
Ohio Valley Running Company
Ohio Valley Running Company this year was recognized by Best of Athens voters as having the best customer service in the county. The shop, owned and operated by Jonathan and Ariana Bernard, is located on Station Street. Second place this year goes to Zonez, located inside the Market on State. Donkey Coffee also received recognition for its customer service in this year’s contest, snagging third place.
Place for unique gifts
White’s Mill continues to be the best place for unique gifts in the area. Following the iconic mill is Passion Works Studio, famous for its Passion Flowers. Third place goes to Artifacts Gallery, located on West State Street.
Professional Services Provider
Ohio University Credit Union
It looks like last year this category was described as a “grab bag” category, and that’s a rather fair description, so we’re sticking with it. Out top service provider in the area, yet again, is Ohio University Credit Union. Second place goes to Financial Accounting and Advisory Svc’s, which has its office on Columbus Road. Third place goes to Secure Title Services, also located on Columbus Road.
Carsey’s Barber Shop
Although first place in the salon category has historically gone to either The Loft Hair and Spa Salon or Attractions Hair & Nail Salon, this year it goes to neither (although they placed second and third, respectively). Bringing home the top honor in the 2021 Best of Athens Reader’s Choice Awards is Carsey’s Barber Shop, located on Court Street.
Heating and Cooling
Hendrix Heating and Cooling kept Athens County warm (or cold, depending on the person’s fancy) this year, snagging the top title of best heating and cooling service. Dowler Heating, Cooling and Refrigeration scored second place, and Airclaws Heating and Cooling took home third.
New Type of Business Athens County Needs
Voters decided that the new type of business that would make Athens better and brighter would be Target. Every few years, rumors seem to circulate that we will be seeing an addition of one to the area, but it has yet to happen. Voters also had similar feelings about Trader Joe’s, thinking the county would benefit from its existence.
Finally, voters want more Italian food. Now, Athens isn’t a stranger to Italian cuisine. Eateries such as Tavolino and Ciro Italian Kitchen and Bar offer an assortment of hearty Italian dishes… but one cannot have too much Italian food, no?
Place to Donate Used Items
The Athens Goodwill takes home the title of best place to donate used items in this year’s contest, but My Sister’s Place and Habitat for Humanity also received nods from voters (although, it’s always best to call ahead to the organization to which you want to donate or visit its website to research donation guidelines. Sometimes they can’t accept certain items, no matter how well-intended the donation is!).
Local Insurance Office
Bickle Insurance Services
It’s difficult to inject any bit of wit (or for me, more likely, dumb puns) into the insurance conversation, so here are our winners for this year’s contest. First place goes to Bickle Insurance Services; second place goes to Athens Insurance Services, Inc.; third place goes to Mathews Insurance, Inc.
The Ridges won the top spot for best building in the area, followed by Stuart’s Opera House (based in Nelsonville) and then the Brown House, which was demolished a few years ago.
OU Campus Site
The Ridges is a beloved campus site in Athens County, particularly among Best of Athens voters, who typically nod to this spot in some way for this category annually. Next up is College Green, and following that is Emeriti Park.
Places Most Missed Due to COVID
Athens County misses a lot of things due to the pandemic, but one greatly missed pastime voters pointed to was watching films at the Athena Grand. The State Street theater has a lot to offer area cinephiles: large screens, arcade games, and the tiny seasoning canisters you can sprinkle on your popcorn (my personal, albeit weird, go-to combination is kettle corn and white cheddar).
Second place goes to Casa Nueva, whose dine-in experience was missed by many. Other voters voiced their sadness over a lack of live music at The Union, which won third this year.
Hocking Hills State Park
Athens County’s preferred weekend getaway (somewhere you can travel to in less than an hour) is Hocking Hills State Park, located in neighboring Hocking County, but voters also favor West Virginia and Columbus for their weekends away.
Strouds Run State Park
Strouds Run State Park was voted best park in this year’s Best of Athens: the park is a well-loved hiking, swimming and kayaking location to many. Next up was the Athens West State Street Dog Park (Athens County’s dogs must have influenced their owners on this one). Earning third place this year is Lake Snowden.
Garret Mathson — The Pub
The Pub this year is home to the best bartender in Athens, with Garret Mathson snagging top praise in this category. Mathson also won this honor last year. Voters also nodded to Brittney Thomas of Tony’s Tavern and Josh Brown of Casa Cantina, who both also pour beer with finesse and make mean mixed drinks.
The top honor for best place in Athens for happy hour goes to Tony’s Tavern, located on West State Street. Jackie O’s Public House took home second place for this contest, and West End Ciderhouse placed third.
Bar for People Over 30
Cat Eye’s Saloon
Hmm. It appears we have a bit of an upset here. For ages, Tony’s Tavern was the leading spot for people over 30 to find their spirits and booze, but this year’s top honor goes to Cat Eye’s Saloon. Tony’s did, however, take home second place, followed by West End Ciderhouse.
Local Band or Performer
The Wild Honeybees
The music scene in Athens also had to adapt to the pandemic, and many bands lost opportunities to perform their art and make bookings in the area’s venues. However, voters nodded to one group above all else this year (and for many years): The Wild Honeybees. The Wild Honeybees describes itself as a New Orleans-style R&B dance band. Second place this year goes to The Come On Come Ons, and third place goes to the Water Witches.
Best Place for Mixed Drinks
West End Ciderhouse
Best of Athens voters have spoken: West End Ciderhouse is the top spot for mixed drinks in the city. Here, you can enjoy a mixed drink whilst sitting on a couch and challenging your friendships over a game of Monopoly, and that’s worth celebrating. Second place honors go to Casa Cantina, and third place recognition goes to The Union.