The beloved food truck takes its long-awaited next step.
“We put a lot of effort into creating a place that felt warm and inviting and reflected the food we serve,” says Brian Maness, owner of Ozark Mountain Biscuit Co. And that is exactly what Bryan and his team did — the new Ozark Mountain Biscuit restaurant, located in the Arcade District, is full of natural light, light colors, and an overall feeling of “home” for customers.
Ozark Mountain Biscuit started out as a food truck in 2013. Bryan had an idea to bring the mobile food scene to Columbia in late 2011 and spent the next year building a business plan and putting his ideas into action. He quit his full-time job as a chef and opted to work a job with fewer hours so that he could focus on his business plan in the evenings.
“The original business plan had a different trajectory: set up a food truck, establish a brand, work events, and eventually build out a brick and mortar,” Bryan explains. “But we started getting really big in the event business, so we bought a second auxiliary truck and traveled to big music events. We did that for 6 years — Paddy Jernigan managed the truck in Columbia while I traveled to different music events.”
The pandemic slowed things down and allowed for a chance to circle back to the original goals for the business. In that time, they started moving back towards opening the brick and mortar location.
“That was a big leap of faith — it was nerve-wracking deciding to open a restaurant when we did. We lost all of our event business in 2020, which was two-thirds of total revenue,” Bryan says. “This isn’t unique to us, though. Everyone in the service industry is trying to make their way through this reality.”
To maximize their chances for success, they sought out a perfect location. After searching in other areas of town, they landed on the Arcade District.
“Our priority was to create a place to welcome people in, to sit down and dine with us — something you can’t create in a mobile restaurant,” Bryan says. “We knew this was the right spot because of its proximity to Logboat and downtown, which I really view as our heart.”
The building used to be the old Diggs Meat Packing plant; the bar area was originally a giant walk-in freezer. Bryan spent every day with the contractors while the building was being redesigned.
“The day we started cooking food here, it was a surreal moment of, ‘Oh yeah, I have a bar and a restaurant,’” Bryan says. “Just to sit and have a drink in my bar was great.”
This is just the beginning for Ozark Mountain Biscuit. Their time, passion, and dedication have set a solid foundation for the company to grow.
“We have a long way to grow,” Bryan says. “We are still just getting our feet wet with the restaurant. I think it is a positive start, and I see the brand growing beyond the restaurant.”
During the pandemic, Ozark Mountain Biscuit launched retail take-and-bake products in grocery stores, a product that Bryan could see growing even bigger down the road. “That could be a whole other animal of business that I haven’t even entertained yet,” he says.
For now, Columbia residents have a lot of fun recipes to look forward to. Bryan is currently working on their winter menu, which will include soups.
“It’s great to finally have a restaurant and finally have some flexibility with culinary creativity, which is tricky to do with a food truck. Now we have a whole area to play,” Bryan says.
Ozark Mountain Biscuit Co.
204 Hinkson Ave.
Bryan has the idea to open a food truck in Columbia.
Business planning and preparation begins.
The Ozark Mountain Biscuit Co. food truck debuts.
Ozark Mountain Biscuit uses an auxiliary kitchen in Cafe Berlin while waiting for their own space.
Ozark Mountain Biscuit opens their brick and mortar restaurant.