Denise Ward grew up nourished by soul food that her mother skillfully prepared. After learning to prepare the same recipes herself, she dreamed of sharing them with other people. That’s why she and her husband, Perry, opened a soul food café in 1985, naming it Niecies Restaurant. In 2006, they expanded to a second location.
In the early hours, cooks grill pork chops for breakfast sandwiches and prepare signature plates such as the Sunrise Breakfast, which The Pitch asserts, “may be the best way to start any morning.” Later in the day, plates of fried catfish and barbecue brisket share table space with bowls of beef stew more comforting to stomachs than teddy bears eaten whole. Homespun desserts such as peach cobbler sweeten palates.
The food gets served in a comfy diner-style setting. Thickly padded booths line two long rows of front windows, and diner stools prop up guests at the counter—in case they want to reenact scenes from their favorite road-trip movie, such as Ben-Hur. Floral wallpaper hangs cozily over wood-trim wainscoting, and plates of pancakes can be seen on the shelf between the kitchen and the dining area for that fleeting instant before servers whisk them off to tables.
As you approach the ornate 1916 building now known as Bevo Mill, you may notice two storks on the chimney. They aren't pausing en route to deliver twins—the stone birds were added as a good luck symbol in the German and Dutch tradition. When August A. Busch Sr. of Anheuser-Busch commissioned the structure in the years leading up to World War I, he sought to bring Europe's Flemish architecture and culture back to his native St. Louis. The historical building eventually closed its doors to the public, but in 2009, it reopened as Bevo Mill, an elegant events center that welcomes weddings, corporate gatherings, and other large-scale happenings.
Visitors can still watch the 60-foot-wide aluminum blades of the original windmill spin, and admire the exterior stucco walls’ multicolored stones, each hand-picked by Mr. Busch from his home farm. Brass chandeliers illuminate the main dining area, where vaulted cathedral ceilings curve down into arches whose bases are guarded by stone-carved gnomes. Local artisans restored the Mill Room's painted tile murals and ornate wooden beams, and the Oak Room's artisan glass and art deco light fixtures were meticulously repaired or stolen from Jay Gatsby's mansion.
In the kitchen, chefs prepare refined event menus and samplings of hors d'oeuvres such as flaky feuilletes, glazed pot stickers, quiches, and quesadillas. Buffets feature dishes as diverse as grilled Norwegian salmon, chicken roulades, and seasonal vegetable medleys. On Sundays, chefs prepare a brunch buffet that features dozens of internationally inspired recipes such as hardwood smoked bacon, belgian waffles, potato pancakes, and Hungarian-style sausage. Once a month, Bevo Mill holds an authentic German night, complete with live music and a German buffet.
Head baker Lisa Cothran crafts frosting-topped confections and custom pies and cakes from scratch using top-secret recipes garnered during a lifelong love of baking. Inside the pale-blue shop, silver serving trays set off the colorful frosting of signature cupcakes. The shop always supplies a core menu of client favorites alongside a rotating selection of unique flavor combinations, seasonal varieties, and preemie cakes needing special attention. Lisa intersperses her selection of classic and miniature cupcakes with cookies and a listing of cakes and pies she can craft upon request. The shop also connects with clients by hosting a variety of events, allowing patrons to get their hands sugary while decorating cupcakes or convincing gingerbread men of the fashionableness of frosted cravats.
Smokehouse Bar-B-Que’s dinner and lunch menus satisfy cravings across the protein spectrum with a selection of hickory-smoked beef, pork, chicken, and seafood. High-quality cuts mingle between the Junior Smokehouse’s sesame-seed buns ($8.45), which grant diners a choice of two savories such as beef brisket, polish sausage, or time-traveling triceratops shank. The Monterey chicken's 8-ounce grilled breast nestles in a corn-dust bun alongside its eponymous cheese, ham, bacon, and dijon-mustard bedmates ($9.25), and chefs catapult a 16-ounce whole catfish through a Cajun-sauce and lemon-butter waterfall before bringing it in to land gently next to a house salad and choice of side ($14.95). Also flanked by a patron-preferred side dish, the Kansas City Strip rolls a 12-ounce certified Angus beef steak down sizzling hickory logs and into eagerly awaiting mouths ($23.95).
At more than five locations through Missouri, CPR Cell Phone Repair's expert technicians nurse malfunctioning phones back to health. Specializing in iPhones – though able to repair any brand – the team fixes everything from cracked screens to water damage and charging problems within hours. Besides phones, each tech is well versed in plenty other devices, from tablets and laptops to gaming systems, such as Xbox 360s or shoeboxes painted like PlayStations.
The staff at Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt rejects the oft-touted claim that Americans don’t care about nutrition. The problem, they say, has more to do with selection than anything else; most low-calorie sweets don’t hold a candle to a fudge brownie or a warm slice of apple pie. They kept this in mind when crafting their frozen-yogurt recipes, working tireless to develop a healthy—and equally delicious—alternative to the dessert status quo by turning to decadent confections and just-picked fruits for inspiration.
Their experiments thus far have yielded more than 60 frozen yogurt flavors, which take turns pumping through the self-serve machines that line their colorful shop’s wall. Before taking a seat in a bright orange chair, guests fill their dishes with cool, low-fat swirls of chocolate cheesecake, strawberry banana, and a classic tart that bites as pleasantly as a teething kitten. Juicy pears, crunchy granola, and gooey chocolate sauce headline a smorgasbord of at least 30 toppings ready to scooped or poured into cups before their final weigh-in.