(Continued from page 1)

What kind of town is it now?

It’s grown by leaps and bounds. There are probably 20 to 25 really good restaurants, lots of young talent and people moving back here and setting roots. It’s a town that you can take a few days to get through. There’s incredible barbecue at Pappy’s and other great restaurants like Niche, Farmhaus, Mai Lee, Tony’s and more. It has a lot to offer.

How does your restaurant today compare to the one 10 years ago?

It’s changed a lot. It’s sharper. As the years go by, you hone in on your vision and make things simpler. We try to be as elegant without being pretentious. It’s always a work in progress.

Has it lived up to your original vision?

Honestly, I didn’t have a vision of what I wanted. My background was all over the place and I just wanted to cook food that people would enjoy. I didn’t want to cook fancy stuff. I wanted to have that plumber here and the mayor, too. I wanted everyone to experience it. It’s a rustic place with no stuffiness.

Do you ever wish you were in a bigger market?

People ask me that all the time. If I could do it all over, I’d still be in St. Louis. Period. It’s been an incredible ride and we’ve been very fortunate to get to where we are now. It’s been awesome just to see the town grow. It should never be about you or exposure. It’s cooler to be a part of something like a whole movement or a community growing. St. Louis will be a force to be reckoned with in the next five years.

This really seems like a family affair for you.

Family is a huge part of this. My wife (Mina) helps with all the numbers and the business side and my brother (Chris) runs the front of the house and wine program.

Do you ever think about a second restaurant?

I definitely want to and think it’s going to happen sooner than not. I never really thought about it before, but I’ve changed gears lately.