The Whiskey Joe’s story fittingly starts with an old barn and a family history. Ten years ago, an old neighbor from the small rural town where Steve was raised approached him about taking down an old “bank” barn before it collapsed. The barn had become dilapidated and a burden on the family and needed to be scrapped, but while tearing it down, Steve saw potential in the old, beautiful wood that had formed the structure and held for over 100 years. Hesitant to throw it into a burn pile, he and his wife discussed the possibility of using the wood to create furniture and bringing the Greenzalis’ who were old friends, on board to form a business – Steve was the craftsman, and Melinda handling the day-to-day side of the operation; and Whiskey Joe’s was born.
Deciding on a name was a more difficult task and after a “men vs women” naming debate, Steve went to dinner with Dorothy, the woman who owned the barn. At one point during dinner, she leaned over to whisper to him, with only 4 people at the table, and said, “I probably shouldn’t tell you this but, my grandfather who built the barn’s nickname was Whiskey Joe.” And that’s when we knew – a name that represents the family roots that set the foundation for the business and gives a little color to each piece made. The name stuck and since then we’ve paid homage to the barn that started it all, branded on every table, bench, and coaster sold.
Steve was raised on his parent’s dairy farm near the bustling town of Tippecanoe, Ohio. Growing up on a working farm taught him to create beautiful and useful things, keeping form and function in a proper balance. He went on to graduate from Hocking College with a degree in Culinary Arts, after which he and his lovely wife, Kris, moved to Columbus, Ohio where he and Melinda’s family became fast friends. After some time in Columbus, he and his wife and three kids moved to Leipsic, Ohio, where he began working at ProTech and farming on Kris’ family farm. Somehow, as he worked two taxing jobs, he managed to find time to hone his woodworking craft in a small family workshop not far from his house. Since moving to Leipsic, his family has grown considerably, adding nine wonderful grandchildren to the mix. In his free time (if that exists), Steve enjoys hunting, baking, and on rare occasion, sleeping.
Melinda was raised in the heart of suburban Columbus, Ohio, graduating from The Ohio State University. It was during this time that she met Greg and the two were married and started a family of boys, three to be exact. She managed to stay (relatively) sane while taking the role of stay-at-home mother of the three young bucks and general partner in Greg’s personal training business. Though she grew up and raised her family in the suburban scrawl of Columbus, she has always felt a pull toward the farms of the countryside, fuel her by the memories of her time spent on her relative’s farm in Indiana and the happiness found in the quieter side of life there. In her free time, Melinda enjoys reading anything she can get her hands on, watching predictable Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel, and a generous pour of whiskey in her ginger-ale.