Finley Farms, the site of a 189-year-old grain mill in the southwestern Missouri town of Ozark, has been revitalized by the Morris family, which owns the property — and whose patriarch Johnny Morris also founded hunting and fishing retailer Bass Pro Shops — and have turned it into an urban farm, educational center and two restaurants.
Ozark Mill opened last September, serving its own style of hearth-baked sourdough pizza and family-friendly dishes, much of which use ingredients from the property’s own farm or neighboring ones. The Garrison opened in July, offering a fine-dining menu and custom cocktails, and drawing large crowds.
“Since we’ve opened, we’ve seen a great response from the community, and served more than 3,000 customers,” Finley Farms marketing manager Dayle Duggins said of The Garrison. “We were sold out 30 days before our opening.”
The Garrison is named for Howard Garrison, a local artist and owner of The Riverside Inn, which was a hotspot during prohibition, and more recently was frequented by the Morris family. After that building was demolished in the aftermath of severe flooding, the Morrises bought artifacts from the property, as well as some of Garrison’s paintings, and used it to decorate the restaurant.
Photo credit: The Garrison at Finley Farms
“When it closed due to flooding, they knew it would be missed by the community,” Duggins said.
She added that the restaurant “is very speakeasy-inspired with an 1800s bar piece and chandeliers made from glass bottles. It’s a great place for a date night or meeting a special group of friends.”
The entrance of the restaurant is a massive molasses tank-turned-tunnel from the original 1833 mill. At 4,950 square feet, including the patio, the restaurant seats 137 guests who can make reservations for indoor, patio, or soft seating (couches and plush chairs), or private dining.
The patio affords views of the Finley River, a mill dam, and Riverside Bridge.
“It is completely covered, with fire pits out there, and we’re hoping to make it multi-seasonal,” Duggins said.
Kevin Korman, executive chef for both restaurants, is a 24-year industry veteran who combines his classical training with Ozark traditions.
The Garrison’s menu reflects local fare, such as quail stuffed with wild mushrooms and grains and “Forest Panzanella” with mushrooms and sesame sourdough, as well as crowd pleasers such as shrimp ceviche, sea scallops with pancetta, and a shareable porterhouse steak. Also on the menu is Riverside Fried Chicken, served family-style for which Garrison’s property was famous a century ago.
“It’s topped with fresh herbs and house-made dill pickles, pickled okra, and garlic scapes,” Duggins said. “[The dish] is a contrast between history and things that are grown on our farm.”
The Garrison’s menu currently features 17 items from the farm, grown less than 1,000 feet from the restaurant
“The family is passionate about history and preserving that history,” Duggins said.
Eight craft cocktails, dubbed “high-brow” on the restaurant’s web site, are priced at $13-15. The Garrison cocktail — a boozy drink made in the tradition of the Old Fashioned and a Manhattan, is served over a hickory-smoked whiskey rock meant to be reminiscent of Garrison’s cigars, and The Millpond arrives with a garnish that resembles a lily pad floating on top.
The Morrises are planning on adding a brewery and lodging to the property, but at the moment the newest offering is a self-guided history tour of the three-floor Ozark Mill, “to round out [a customer’s] experience at Finley Farms and perhaps enjoy before or after eating,” Duggins said.