Top 100 Independents: The Heartland | Food Newsfeed
Continue to Site
Ron Manville

The 404 Kitchen

Top 100 Independents: The Heartland

Underline Image

Historic landmark restaurants, high-performers, outstanding new concepts—meet the best operators in cities that are gaining traction as culinary destinations.

By Sonya Chudgar, Keith Loria, Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Bryan Reesman July 2015 Bar Management

The 404 Kitchen

Nashville, Tennessee

Housed in a shipping container with an herb garden on its rooftop, The 404 Kitchen and Chef Matt Bolus give a modern interpretation to European cuisine.

Opened ∕ October 2013

Annual Sales ∕ $1.2–$1.5 million

Average Check ∕ $80

Owner∕ Mark Banks

The Greenhouse Tavern

Cleveland, Ohio

Winner of this year's James Beard Best Chef: Great Lakes and the first certified green restaurant in Ohio, it serves about 500 guests on a weekend night and 200 to 300 diners on weekdays.

Opened ∕ April 2009

Average Check ∕ $47

Owners ∕ Chef Jonathon Sawyer, Amelia Sawyer, Robert Voth, Umesh Ramakrishnan

Wolf's Ridge Brewing

Columbus, Ohio

Combining high-quality beers with California-French cuisine, Wolf's Ridge Brewing focuses on a superior dining and drinking experience, and Chef Seth Lassak took home the Best Restaurant of 2013 award presented by Columbus Monthly.

Opened ∕ September 2013

Annual Sales ∕ $1.7 million

Average Check ∕ $30

Owners∕ Alan and Bob Szuter

Archie's Waeside

Le Mars, Iowa

Owner Bob Rand and his sister Lorrie Luense are the third generation of their family to run this iconic steak and seafood restaurant, which received the James Beard Foundation's America's Classics award this year.

Opened ∕ 1949

Average Check ∕ $25

Owner∕ Bob Rand

Ox Yoke Inn

Amana, Iowa

This fifth-generation family-owned landmark features German-American cuisine and has served an estimated 16 million guests since opening.

Opened ∕ April 1940

Annual Sales ∕ $3 million

Average Check ∕ $19 per person, $55 per transaction

Owner ∕ Bill Leichsenring

Centro

Des Moines, Iowa

Centro

Located in a restored Masonic temple that was built in 1911, this urban Italian restaurant is a favorite stop for press and politicians during Iowa's caucuses, and even supplied the meal Bill and Hillary Clinton ate after attending Senator Tom Harkin's last political rally.

Opened ∕ November 2012

Average Check ∕ Lunch: $16, Dinner: $40

Chef/Owner ∕ George Formaro

Hog & Hominy

Memphis, Tennessee

Known for its Italian cooking with Southern roots, the restaurant turns its back patio, aka "the holding pen," into a themed pop-up twice a year. Once a dive bar featuring a special burger, the most recent pop-up was a raw bar.

Opened ∕ June 2012

Annual Sales ∕ $1–$3 million

Average Check ∕ $40

Chef/Owners∕ Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman

St. Elmo Steak House

Indianapolis

A storied history of serving superior steaks, seafood, and chops sets the stage for this landmark eatery, where 199,165 entrées were served in 2014 and an estimated 135,000 shrimp cocktails are served each year.

Opened ∕ 1902

Annual Sales ∕ $17.7 million

Average Check ∕ $88

Owners∕ Steve and Craig Huse

Harry & Izzy's

Indianapolis

This upscale American grill boasts a wine cellar with nearly 3,000 bottles of wine, serves 22,000 martinis annually, and keeps a running chalkboard that highlights the odds of upcoming sporting events.

Opened ∕ 2007

Annual Sales ∕ $10.8 million

Average Check ∕ $39.80

Owners∕ Steve Huse, Craig Huse, Chris Clifford, Tom Browne, and Peyton Manning

Etch

Nashville, Tennessee

The restaurant, where celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Hayden Panettiere are often sighted, donates $1 from each purchase of its roasted cauliflower appetizer to the Taste of the NFL Kick Hunger campaign.

Opened ∕ August 2012

Annual Sales ∕ $4.2 million

Average Check ∕ $65 at dinner, $24 at lunch

Chef/Owner ∕ Deb Paquette

City Grocery

Oxford, Mississippi

For more than 20 years, New Orleans native John Currence has brought the influence of his European travels to City Grocery's eclectic cuisine, also known for its famous Shrimp and Grits.

Opened ∕ June 1992

Annual Sales ∕ $2.3 million

Average Check ∕ Lunch: $18, Dinner: $45

Chef/Owner ∕ John Currence

One Eleven at the Capital

Little Rock, Arkansas

A semifinalist for James Beard: Best New Restaurant this year, Executive Chef Joël Antunes serves such fare as Berkshire Pork, Orecchiette Pasta, Chorizo, and Seared Black Bass and Pumpkin Risotto.

Opened ∕ August 2014

Average Check ∕ Breakfast: $16, Lunch: $23, Dinner: $75

Owners ∕ Warren and Harriet Stevens

South on Main

Little Rock, Arkansas

Chef Bell, who co-owns the restaurant with actors Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson, serves refined Southern dishes like Duck Breast with Jalapeño-Cheddar Corn Pudding, Kale & Bacon Jam, and Veggie Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Crust.

Opened ∕ August 2013

Annual Sales ∕ $1.2 million

Average Check ∕ Lunch: $12, Dinner: $28

Chef/Owner ∕ Chef Matthew Bell

Niche

St. Louis

Winner of this year's James Beard Best Chef: Midwest, Executive Chef Nate Hereford makes everything in-house, from the charcuterie to Camembert cheese, and no ingredient can come from outside the region, beyond a range of about 300 miles.

Opened ∕ November 2012 (In a different location for seven years prior.)

Annual Sales ∕ $3–$5 million

Average Check ∕ Four-course menu: $67, Chef's tasting menu: $100

Chef/Owner∕ Gerard Craft

Elaia and Olio

St. Louis

Greg Rannells

Two halves of a dual-restaurant concept, Elaia is a romantic, candlelit spot where service is elegant, yet casual. Olio, by contrast, is a casual wine bar located in a renovated 1930s Standard Oil Filling Station. The two are connected by a corridor and each seats 36 guests.

Opened ∕ October 2012

Annual Sales ∕ $2 million

Average Check ∕ Elaia: $100, Olio: $32–$35

Chef/Owner ∕ Ben Poremba

Michael Smith

Kansas City, Missouri

The fine-dining restaurant Michael Smith shares staff and space with its casual partner-concept, Extra Virgin, an upscale, hip gastropub.

Opened ∕ July 2007

Annual Sales ∕ $2.9 million

Average Check ∕ $65

Owner ∕ Chef Michael Smith and wife Nancy Smith

Beaumont Inn

Harrodsburg, Kentucky

The restaurant still serves many of the same items that it did when it first opened nearly 100 years ago, and this year Beaumont Inn received the James Beard Foundation's America's Classics award.

Opened ∕ 1917

Annual Sales ∕ $1.25 million

Average Check ∕ $25–$35

Owners ∕ Chuck and Helen Dedman, Elizabeth and Dixon Dedman

MilkWood

Louisville, Kentucky

Located below street level, the restaurant has a private, cozy, modern speakeasy feel about it. Ironically, its famous chicken and waffles dish has been photographed more often than many celebrities.

Opened ∕ February 2013

Average Check ∕ $40

Chef/Owner∕ Edward Lee

610 Magnolia

Louisville, Kentucky

A landmark restaurant that was rescued by Chef Lee from years of neglect, the restaurant features a prix fixe tasting menu of contemporary Southern fare—but Chef Lee has never repeated a tasting menu at the restaurant.

Opened ∕ First opened in 1978. Edward Lee took it over in June 2004.

Average Check ∕ $125

Chef/Owner∕ Edward Lee