Best of Athens Logo 2018

Best Type of Business that Athens County Needs


We want Target. We want Target. We Want Target.

For yet another Best of Athens year, most of our survey respondents aimed their online trigger finger at the big-box retailer Target as the main business they’d like to see come to Athens. Target, from what we local yokels understand, is an upscale (or shall we say, medium-scale?) version of Walmart, though with a narrower range of merchandise.

Second most-desired business, according to our readers, is Trader Joe’s. Can anybody holler “Two-Buck Chuck” really loud?

The generic “Italian restaurant” wins third place. This reminds me of a ’70s eras chain that my friends and I frequented in the Akron area called the “Spaghetti Bowl.” All-you-can-eat spaghetti and garlic bread for something like 4 bucks. Carb city, baby.

Fourth and fifth place go to Menard’s and Panera Bread, respectively.

Best Veterinarian Clinic

Allen Pet Clinic

This year, the Best Veterinary Clinic category got shuffled a bit from last year. Whereas The Plains Veterinary Clinic won in 2017, last year’s third-place winner takes the top spot this year. That’s Allen Pet Clinic, also in The Plains. What’s with all the vet clinics in The Plains?

Second place this year goes to Abfall Veterinary Services, you guessed it, also in The Plains.

Third-place-winner Kroner Animal Care, which, very strangely, is not located in The Plains but just outside Athens, is where this anonymous author takes his obnoxious dog for boarding and treatment, and Doggy X likes it just fine there. In fact he wags his tail when we leave him off for boarding. Dare we suggest the possibility, he like them better than us? ]-;

Athens Veterinary Clinic on Pomeroy Road in Athens wins fourth place, with Ohio Valley Animal Clinic (Athens) rounds out the winners in fifth place.

Best Place to Buy a Car in Athens County

Don Wood Automotive

We only had three choices for Best Place to Buy a Car (in Athens County) survive the nominating round, and Don Wood Automotive comes out on top. However, the voting was fairly tight in this category, so you other guys can look forward to taking first place next year,

Second place goes to Taylor Motors, out on Columbus Road, with third going to Mark Porter Autoplex, like Don Wood located on East State Street in Athens.

Best New Business

Eclipse Company Store Craft Beer Hall

Taking home the coveted prizes for Best New Restaurant AND Best New Business is no small feat, but the Eclipse Company Store Craft Beer Hall managed to accomplish as much in this year’s Best of Athens awards. It’s more than a place for beer, though – the restaurant/bar in The Plains has a well-liked, dedicated menu with things like wings and brats on it, and has brought many top-line musical acts to Athens County in the past year. In the summer, its outdoor shows are among the best opportunities in Athens County to enjoy music outside with tasty craft beer.

The Dirty Dawg Express Wash takes home the second-place spot in this category. Contrary to what the name suggests, it’s a carwash, not a place to take your pooch after he/she runs into some foul stuff while going for a walk.

Third place goes to the small-but-mighty Tavolino Italian restaurant on Shafer Street in Athens. Ohio is Home, an apparel and gift shop on Columbus Road, takes home the fourth-place spot, followed by new restaurant/bar Corner on Union on West Union Street.

Best Local Market

Athens Farmers Market

One of the best things about living in the Athens area is the wide variety of food markets from which to choose. Everything from big-box supermarkets to neighborhood groceries to the Athens Farmers Market. And this year in the Best Market category, all of those types of markets placed in the top three.

Winning first place is the longstanding, some would say legendary Athens Farmers Market, the twice-weekly (sometimes thrice-weekly) open-air market at The Market on State. We Athenians tend to take it for granted, but most communities don’t enjoy a great resource like this. The best part is that when you buy stuff at the Athens Farmers Market, you’re helping other local residents make a few bucks, which all stays in the community.

Second place goes to Kroger, the chain supermarket with a neighborhood grocery feel. If you believe in such a thing as food art, check out the “wet wall” in the Kroger produce section (the long section with refrigerated vegetables, both organic and not). Beautiful!

A neighborhood grocery wins third place. Seaman’s Cardinal Super Market fills that corner-grocery niche on Athens’ West side, but also is a great source for local meats and other locally sourced foods, as well as sporting one of the best beer and wine selections in town.

Fourth and fifth place go to The Farmacy and The Market on State mall, respectively.

Best Beer & Wine Selection


We decided to change the name of this category from Best Carryout to Best Beer & Wine Selection in order to get a true picture of where local alkies – er, we mean, responsible drinkers – go shopping for their beer and wine.

From the overwhelming choice of Kroger as the top vote getter in this category, we can safely surmise that many Athenians prefer to pick up their booze along with other consumables.

Kroger does have a great selection, and regularly holds wine- and beer-tasting events, along with musical accompaniment.

Second place goes to the modest uptown carryout with the funky name, …And Beer.

Bella Vino, the classy carryout on the site of the former legendary Sutton’s One-Stop Carryout on Stimson Avenue, rounds out the top three.

Also on Stimson, Busy Day Market – which we must acknowledge has an incredible beer and wine selection – comes in at number four, with Village Bakery and Café at number five.

As long as we have you here as a captive audience, if you’re a fan of $10 bottles of wine, pick up a bottle of 19 Crimes Australian wine sometime and then download the 19 Crimes app. Before you know it, your wine bottle will be telling you stories. This is not a product recommendation, since yours truly wouldn’t know good wine from shoe policy, but it is a cool app.

Best Auto Repair Shop

Huddle Tire & Auto

Last year’s third-place winner for Best Local Auto Repair Shop, kicked its way into overdrive and sped past last year’s first- and –second place winners. But considering how close the voting was in this category, it’s probably anybody’s race to win every year.

First place this particular year goes to Huddle Tire & Auto on Richland Avenue on Athens South Side.

Second and third place, respectively, go to last year’s second-place winner, Muffler Man, and first-place finisher, Alvis Auto Repair, both on Columbus Road in Athens.

Fourth and fifth place go to Sundown Garage and Autotech Service Center, both in Athens.

Best Heating & Cooling Business


If Best of Athens also had a category for unusual business names, we’re pretty sure Airclaws would win that, too. But since we don’t, Airclaws, based in Amesville, just has to be satisfied with placing first in the main category for which they’re eligible – Best Local Heating and Cooling Business.

They won last year, too.* (This is incorrect, and apologies to Dean Heating & Cooling, who won first place in this category last year. TS)

This year, curious about why voters selected certain HVAC businesses over others, we commissioned a Manual J load calculation, with an overlay SEER study, an underlay HSPF study, and a peripheral AFUE study. Then we tied in a Heat Recovery Ventilator and a Variable-Speed Blower Motor just to make sure everything was working correctly.

We’re still awaiting the results.

Onward and upward, second place in this category goes to Dean’s Heating & Cooling; third place goes to David White Services (hello, neighbors!); fourth to Residential Heating Cooling; fifth to Davidson Bush, Inc.; and sixth to Dowler Heating & Cooling.

Best Place to Find Hard-to-Find Items

White's Mill

Next time you lose your keys as you’re leaving the house, drive to White’s Mill and you should be able to find them. That’s because White’s Mill places first in the Best of Athens category Best Place to Find Hard-to-Find Items this year.

Hold on… Why are you calling me an idiot? Oh? Really?

OK, sorry folks, this category is for hard-to-find retail products, not stuff you lose at home.

Hey, quit nagging me, I corrected myself. Oh, what? Aw, geez, you’re right. How could I have driven to White’s Mill if my keys were missing?

Not a great moment in the 29-year annals of Best of Athens.

C&E True Value Hardware, a past winner in this category, places second, with The Farmacy pulling off a third-place win.

Last year’s top vote-getter Athens Underground places fourth this year, with fifth place going to Walmart and sixth place to New-to-You Thrift Shoppe.

Best Place to Donate Used Items

Habitate for Humanity ReStore

Athens is, if nothing else, a giving community, boasting several clothing and used-item donation sites for such a small community. Plus, there’s no shortage of willing donors. This year our readers chose Habitat for Humanity ReStore on West Union Street as the absolute Best Place to Donate Used Items. The ReStore accepts and sells gently used furniture, appliances and home-improvement supplies, so anyone with an extra couch (say, graduating students?) has one less excuse to leave it on the curb.

In second place again this year is New-to-You Thrift Shoppe on Columbus Road, another good place to satisfy furniture needs, further providing a haven for otherwise-curbside bookshelves. Plus they offer lots of gently used clothing and other items.

ReUse Thrift Store comes in third place this year, making Columbus Road the 2018 hotspot for thrifters. Patrons can find and donate all sorts of things at this shop, from clothing and toys to books and building materials.

In fourth place is last year’s winner Goodwill on East State Street, which covers the other side of town. And fifth place goes to the Salvation Army of Athens and Meigs Counties in The Plains.

Best Local Contractor

J&K Contracting

A tie! How about an arm-wrassle to settle things? 

The winners of our Best Local Contractor category this year are Athens business Mike Myers Construction andAlbany business J&K Contracting. Mike Myers Construction was our winner in this category last year, but you can’t go wrong with either outfit; both boast more than 30 years of experience.

Third place goes to B. Grueser Builders in Athens, also a long-standing Athens-based company with 30 years of experience.

Fourth place goes to Johnson Builders/Dana Johnson, followed by Williams & Sons Construction in fifth. Sixth and seventh place go to Cetide LLC and Stalwart Construction, respectively.

Best Place for Unique Gift Items

White's Mill

The best place to find a unique gift in Athens County this year is White’s Mill, our readers tell us, and it’s hard not to see why: Animal feed and feeders, lawn and garden supplies, and plenty of local products. The business is sure located in a unique place, also – in the historic Hocking River mill off Ohio Rt. 682. It’s the white one.

The Import House on North Court Street takes home second place this year, and is also a great choice for all kinds of things, from water pipes and smoking gear to clothing and shoes.

Moutain Laurel Gifts, a longtime uptown store, on South Court Street, wins third place this year (also with the distinction that it’s the only winner in this category with “gifts” in its name). Fourth and fifth place go to the Nelsonville Emporium on the Square in Nelsonville and Artifacts Gallery on West State Street in Athens, respectively.

Best Professional Service Provider

Drs. Quinn, Foster & Associates

What a sight for sore eyes! It’s nice to SEE that Drs. Quinn, Foster & Associates win top honors this year in the Best Professional Services Provider category. SEE what we did there? We’re sorry for the puns, but it’s an optometrist and vision services business!

Second place in this category goes to David White Services, delivering quality HVAC services to local communities for 40 years.

Third and fourth places go to Athens-based attorney Ken Ryan and Athens-based staffing services outfit Mancan, respectively.

Best Salon


Court Street is well endowed with salons and spas, so most folks can take their pick. This year, Attractions hair and nail salon on North Court Street won first place for Best Salon once again, in the second year for the category.

In second place again is Infinity Salon at The Market on State and, moving up a notch in the category,

The Standard Salon on East State Street takes third place. 

Fourth and fifth place, respectively, go to Raphael’s Aveda Concept Salon, also on Court, and Station Street Hair Designs in the Station Plaza. Attitudes Hair Design in Nelsonville wins sixth place.

Best Window Display

Board of Elections (Pumpkin the cat)


The first-place winner for Best Window Display this year is purrfect for the title. Fat fuzz-ball Pumpkin the Cat – who actually lives in the Board of Elections office in the Courthouse Annex – is sure to brighten anyone’s day should they pass by his window on South Court Street and spot him. This is Pumpkin’s first mention in this category according to our records, and may be the first live winner of the category ever.

Those less partial to cats or pumpkins may be pleased to know the second place seat was only 23 votes behind, but Pumpkin is clearly well regarded. Last year’s winner, Passion Works Studio, slides in at second place this year. The Studio’s window on East State Street boasts local art that makes the whole block sparkle.

Third place goes to Mountain Laurel Gifts, also located on South Court, whose inviting and ever-changing display features an abundance of interesting gifts. 

In Fourth place is Artifacts Gallery on West State Street and in fifth place is College Book Store on the corner of South Court and East Union.

Best Customer Service Retailer

Friendly Paws Pet Supplies

Winning first place in this category is Friendly Paws Pet Supply & Grooming, a store with such a friendly vibe that even an angry, aggressive dog entering this shop will be instantly transformed into a friendly, grinning, sparkly-eyed bundle of fur. Well, we don’t know that for a fact, but we sure bet it’s true. 

Kroger places second in the customer service category. All the employees are friendly in this place, but especially the produce guys and gals. If they don’t have a particular type of vegetable or fruit, they can probably plant, grow and harvest it while you’re waiting, especially if you’re waiting in the queue at the Deli. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

C&E True Value Hardware takes third place this year (they’ve won this category a bunch of times in the past and deservedly so). If you’re wandering around C&E for more than 30 seconds without an employee asking what they can do for you, you’re either invisible or the most nondescript person who ever lived.

Fourth, fifth and sixth go to Lance’s Trailer Sales, Artifacts Gallery and Lowe’s, respectively


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