A passerby driving along Route 7 and through Newport, Ohio might not think this little town has too much to offer. But nestled along the great Ohio River is a little gem that all locals are familiar with- the Jug. Since its opening by the Greenwood family in 1955, the Jug has been bringing some of the best tasting ice cream and hot dogs with sauce you’ll ever try (no lie). As an added bonus, dairy bar enthusiasts can enjoy the serenity of the river or admire the picturesque view of cattle grazing across the road on Greenwood Farm. Whichever way you slice it, the Jug is a staple of the MOV. And after one lick of ice cream, you’ll want to make this destination a part of your dairy bar lineup.
The Jug opened its doors for the 2018 season on March 5. Since 2014, owners and operators Sharon and Scott West have enjoyed serving the community through food and fellowship. As Sharon states, “the people are great and the support is great.” One characteristic that makes the Jug so special is indeed the ice cream. Sharon notes there aren’t too many ice cream places in this area to choose from, and the Jug prides itself on serving quality ice cream. A classic vanilla, chocolate or chocolate/vanilla swirl cone may be what you’re craving. But if you’re feeling adventurous, take a stab at their “flavor burst” ice cream. The description is literally in the title- vanilla ice cream with a flavor burst of your choice. The fan favorite is cotton candy, but black raspberry, green apple and butter pecan bursts are also offered.
Something unique about the Jug is the annual Jug Fest that’s held every June. Here you’ll find live music, a car show (which can garner around 75-100 cars), raffle drawings, door prizes and of course great food. It’s quite a site to see dozens of cars lined on the small space of the Jug’s lot, but it will entice you to stop and check out all the activity. It’s a way for the community to celebrate the beginning of summer and also entice travelers to drop in for an ice cream or burger and admire a few of the area’s finest classic cars.
While talking with Sharon, it was evident two of the things she admires most about operating the Jug are the customers and the employees. Two regular customers who stood out in years past were Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Reese. Both gentlemen were in their 90s and they frequented the Jug almost every day, from opening to closing day. Mr. Carpenter’s go-to was a small diet Pepsi and a sandwich. Mr. Reese was partial to a hot dog with sauce and small chocolate shake, and the order was always to be placed in a bag. The employees came to memorize their orders and looked forward to seeing and talking with them each day. The two men became more like family than customers.
That family bond holds true for the employees as well. Sharon said most employees return each season, cooks included. One cook in particular, Rita Walters, has been with the business for 41 years! Rita was hired while my grandparents, Sam and Vera Greenwood, owned the Jug. My grandma would make the hot dog sauce fresh every day at her home and then deliver it to the employees once they opened. After my grandparents sold the business, Rita took over sauce duty and said she makes around three gallons a day. The homemade sauce has been and continues to be a huge draw to hot dog fanatics all around.
The Jug is an important business to Newport. As Sharon noticed, it’s like a tradition to many families in this area- they stop by every season to indulge in their favorite treat. Lots of folks like to visit and share favorite memories of their Jug experiences through the years. The Jug is a fantastic choice for ice cream, but it’s also a quaint spot to set at a picnic table and enjoy the company of friends and family.