Family business empire growing in Warren County’s ‘Antique Capital of the Midwest’

A Warren County-based family at the center of a growing retail business empire is growing its business in what has been called the “Antique Capital of the Midwest.”

Cobblestone Village Cafe is the latest of 10 properties acquired by the Alexanders over the past year or so in Waynesville, a village along U.S. 42, northeast of Lebanon.

A commercial properties company owned by Keith and Dee Alexander purchased Cobblestone Village Cafe, Home Interiors & Gifts, 10 N. Main St., on Aug. 21 for $400,000, according to Warren County property records.

“Keith is positioned to make a bigger impact in the community. I took the restaurant to the next level with the addition of coffee, gelato and full bar, and Keith’s vision is to take the whole town to the next level,” said Jeremy Greene, former Cobblestone owner.

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In addition to their commercial properties company, through which property records indicate the family owns more than 50 Warren County residential or commercial properties, the family is expanding a retail business featuring Rose & Remington, Burlap & Burch and Curve & Cloth stores across the country.

The couple recently added several new stores to the Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek. The goal was to grow to 40 stores in two years.

In Lebanon, the Alexanders started a recruiting company, largely to staff these businesses. And last week, they were expected to present building plans for redevelopment of a former shoe factory in downtown Lebanon as a microbrewery and banquet center.

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Keith Alexander said Waynesville’s location between Interstates 75 and 71 and Cincinnati and Dayton was one of the reasons they have bought the properties.

Alexander also credited Waynesville’s school district and local leadership, as well as an entrepreneurial spirit among local merchants and “favorable housing market”.

“We’re going to grow it even more,” Alexander said.“We’ve got a vision for Waynesville.”

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Among his tenants are a music shop and primitives merchant in the village’s historic downtown. He also hopes to add to Cobblestone’s pastry and dining options, coffee and gelato bar, and home decor on sale.

“It’s something that I think is going to transition even into a greater location,” Alexander said.

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Son Nate Alexander and daughter Kristen Ponchot join their parents in the family’s various businesses.

The family is still interested in Lebanon, where the first of their retail stores line most of two blocks across from Lebanon City Hall.

“We’re doing the Shoe Factory,” the patriarch said. “It’s going to take some time.”

Preliminary plans include a training and events area, which will include live music, in addition to the banquet center and microbrewery. While costly, they plan to replace 367 windows in the old factory, Alexander said.

“It is so unique. It’s going to be a game changer for Lebanon,” he said. On a smaller scale, “that’s kind of our vision for Waynesville.”

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