She’s spent 24 years in the boozy trenches behind the bar in Covington — 13 as a bartender, 11 as an owner. She’s spent 13 years chairing MainStrasse Village’s annual Mardi Gras parade. She’s devoted countless hours to breast cancer awareness and fundraising.

So you’d think by now, Amy Kummler would be ready to prop up her feet and knock back a few of her beloved vodka cranberry concoctions, right?

Wrong. “I won’t retire for a long, long time. I like to work too much. And God only knows what kind of trouble I’d get into. I still like cruising the bars and hanging out way too late. I really have to have something to do.”

For Kummler, a 50-year-old Covington resident, that “something to do” amounts to 18,000 steps a day (“I wore a pedometer for awhile; I translated it to 5-6 miles a day”) from six to 15 hours at her two bars. The first bar, Down Under — located in the Roebling Point district in the shadow of the Kenton County Courthouse — opened in October 2004 and quickly became a lunchtime and happy hour favorite with courthouse types and nearby office workers, as well as a late night hit with 20-somethings drawn by the live music. The other bar, Up Over in MainStrasse district, has been around since December of 2007 and is a work in progress.

But the story begins long before that: “In 1985 I got divorced, quit my job in a dentist’s office and went looking for a new job. When I couldn’t find one, I took a job in MainStrasse for a year tending bar at Strass Haus. A year grew to 20 years. For the last seven years, I owned it with a couple partners.”

It was then — and still is on most nights — the busiest bar in the district. A big part of that was Kummler, who insists that “running a bar is just another form of theater and that’s how I approach it. I think that brings a lot of people in — they want to see what I’ll do next.”

If running a bar is a form of theater, she has the training. A college theater major with a minor in ballet, she has attracted a huge crowd of regulars who have followed her over the years and are no longer surprised when she walks by and plucks a couple fries off a diner’s plate. They’re drawn to her core qualities — flashy, brassy, loud, funny.

After 20 years in Mainstrasse Village, Kummler made the bittersweet decision that it was time to move on. “But then history repeated itself,” she explains. “I couldn’t find a ‘real’ job, so I bought a bar. This place (Down Under) used to be a Zino’s but was sitting vacant. I knew right away that it could be the kind of bar I love — a cross between a dive and a neighborhood joint with plenty of room for a band.”

Oh yeah, bands. Kummler has a long history of supporting local groups because “I like to nurture them. I’m a mommy type who never had kids. But more than that, I’ve booked players who I watched go on to Nashville and carve out unbelievable careers, and knowing I had a hand in it feels really good.”

So does turning a profit: “The first two years were really hard, but by 2006 we were paying the bills and making money. My regulars were a big part of that. Now, I have a bunch of younger bartenders and they’re building their own following. You gotta think of the next generation in a business like this.

“But look around this room sometime at the people. If you hung here open to close, you’d see people 21 to 75 and if I don’t know most of them, my bartender does.”

Her fans are loyal enough that she’s not even worried about the tanking economy: “I was terrified when all this started happening, but honestly, it’s had no impact here or at Up Over.”

Born in Mount Healthy, she grew up mostly in Arizona, but moved back here at age 16 and graduated from Beechwood High School, then went on to NKU and CCM. Her sister Mary Kummler, Down Under’s equally brassy manager and day bartender with her own crowd of merry regulars, has a drink ready for most before a butt hits a barstool. She explains the roaming childhood:

“Our parents died when we were 12. Amy went to live with family in Arizona, but they couldn’t handle her. Just a little too wild. So they sent her back to our family here where she was still wild, but they had better coping skills.”

Coping skills are important when you run a bar: “Yeah, it can be a real drag when you have a problem with a customer, over-served or something, or when you get those crisis calls at 3 in the morning, but here’s the telling part — I never,ever feel like quitting."