Amy Kummler surrounded by an entourage at Mardi Gras in MainStrasse Village.
Kummler, center, was joined by Stephanie Adams in accepting the award from Covington Mayor Joe Meyer.
At Up Over, ‘proprietress extraordinaire’ creates place
where all feel welcome (especially ‘hosers’)
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth of 5 articles naming the winners of the 2022 Authenti-CITY awards given by the City of Covington at a ceremony Monday to mark National Economic Development Week. More about the awards can be found at the bottom of this article.)
COVINGTON, Ky. – Because of Amy Kummler, you don’t have to drive hundreds of miles – south OR north – to find a self-proclaimed “dive bar” that evokes the grit of New Orleans but echoes with a term of endearment stolen from a Canadian hockey comedy film.
Both associations are intentional.
With Kummler’s Up Over Bar at 624 Main St., she’s fierce about creating space where anyone and everyone feels comfortable and welcome.
“My whole theory of this bar, in a nutshell, is I love New Orleans, and I love the grit of New Orleans,” she said. “This bar is the biggest dive of all. I want any type of person to feel welcome here. It’s a little crazy and it’s off the grid.”
Kummler has 45 years of chronicling all that’s been real in The Cov. In some quarters, she’s so associated with Covington’s quirky, sincere personality that when the City’s Economic Development Department unveiled a new marketing vision and brand on Monday, she was asked to read the new “manifesto.”
“All character, no chains,” it says in part.
Also Monday, when the Authenti-CITY Awards were announced, Economic Development director Tom West called Kummler the “proprietress extraordinaire.”
Before Up Over was the StrasseHaus, where she started in 1984, then the Down Under in Roebling Point, which literally existed below street level.
She also was one of the forces – Cock & Bull Public House owner Craig Johnson being another -- behind the Mardi Gras parade held every year through the streets of MainStrasse Village. When those amazing, behemoth papier mache heads come dancing by, you can thank Kummler – and likely see her mixed among them.
She has not only watched but also nurtured the city’s evolution.
“I’ve seen Covington go from a crack town to what it is now. I got to see it all and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it,” Kummler said. “This award means everything to me, after all these years.”
That New Orleans grit that she keeps in The Cov has attracted a long list of regulars over the years, including familiar faces. During her earliest days at Strasse Haus, she recalls pouring bourbon for a young state legislator who had his young daughter in tow.
“I remember Joe Meyer at the bar, and Katie (his daughter) was there in her ‘pumpkin’ seat,” Kummler said.
(In case you’re wondering … Meyer, now Covington’s mayor, confirms the story.)
And if you’ve sat at her bar more than once, odds are you recognized the Canadian reference in the first sentence of this article – because it’s been directed at you.
“The first time I met Amy, she hollered, ‘Hoser!’ at me,” West said. “And I looked at her and said, ‘Well, I’m going to take that as a compliment.’ And then she said, ‘Well, I must not have said it wrong.’ Go up and ask her what a hoser is, maybe she’ll explain to you.”
We already knew, but we asked anyway. Officially, the oft-shouted name was inspired by the 1983 movie “Strange Brew,” and its goofy beer-chugging, hockey-loving Canadians Bob and Doug McKenzie.
She says the term is one “of endearment” in all her uses.
“When I started tending bar, I said that instead of calling people ‘honey,’ ” she said. “I thought ‘Strange Brew’ was the funniest movie.”
So even “hosers” – maybe especially “hosers” – will always be welcome at Kummler’s bar.
“People here need places to hang out that are as different as they are,” she said.
About the awards: The first-annual Authenti-CITY awards were unveiled by Covington’s fun and irreverent Economic Development team in 2021 to celebrate National Economic Development Week in an off-the-wall way.
There were no rules and no criteria – just staffers getting together after hours (maybe over a few drinks, maybe not) and debating fiercely about what businesses, places, events, people and organizations most “kept it real” in The Cov. The fervor had to do with this: Narrowing down the massive list (because, you know, Covington is such a cool place).
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