Belly Market and Rotisserie is a flavorful sequel for COMO appetites
Not all romantic comedy sequels are bad. Not going to sugar-coat it, though, a decent bit of Netflix movies in that category fail miserably. But then there are those exceptional few that rise above the rest. They’re heartfelt and hilarious. They make the audience fall in love with the characters all over again.
Belly Market and Rotisserie is just like those lovable follow-ups — plot twists and all.
This narrative is driven by two Midwest-native chefs fascinated by local, thoughtfully crafted food. Although each had their own respective success in the industry—delving into culinary schools and working in big cities—it wasn’t until the two found themselves back in Missouri that things had clicked into place.
Ben Hamrah had been catering with his family business, Peachtree, on set at Blue Bell Farms one evening. Blue Bell also happened to be where Amanda Elliott worked at the time. Hamrah found himself walking past several glass-front coolers to notice deli containers labeled with green tape, all neatly organized. He had no hesitation in grabbing a few spoons, pulling all the containers out, and trying everything.
Through her food, Hamrah first met Elliot. The rest followed shortly after.
It wasn’t long before they were working together. Elliot began cooking for Peachtree Catering, first during off seasons, but soon found herself there full time. There was a goal present between the two to build recognition for catering businesses, proving that flavor and quality was not a compromise within the platform. Once their minds were set, the business went from a mom-and-pop-style operation to a locally-sourced, high-end caterer.
The protagonists continued their journey as business partners with the opening of their restaurant, Beet Box. It was originally intended as an extension of the catering company to sell boxed meals for lunches and dinners. However, as if it were a blockbuster, it rapidly grew in popularity. After only a few years, the brick-and-mortar had built quite the audience for itself, flourishing under the spotlight.
But, it wouldn’t be a rom-com without the quirky, loveable, and very unexpected interest. In the midst of another project, the business partners were approached by the now-former owners of Hoss’s Market and Rotisserie.
“They were really interested and excited for us to take it over, but they wanted to do a very quick close,” says Hamrah, “We looked at the business that they had built for almost 20 years, and it was a very successful business with a large following. A big push was the amount of catering that they did, so it was an opportunity for us to diversify.”
The name was changed to Belly Market and Rotisserie for its next role. The new purchase became a priority and a promising prospect.
Since the transfer of ownership, the response has been warm and approving. Long-standing customers of Beet Box and Peachtree seemed ecstatic to have yet another location to try new, delectable creations. A majority of Hoss’s loyal customers have been enjoying the consistencies while also anxiously anticipating what’s to come.
Still, it wasn’t all lovey-dovey. There were a few minor complications. It was a process, as it is most times, to develop a business. With this one in particular, a legacy stood intact. It became a question of how much should the location remain Hoss’s, and how much should find its path to Belly.
“To be able to be going on four years [at Beet Box] and to be successful at just making whatever it is we want to do has been a really cool opportunity. But, it is very different to be taking over an almost-twenty-year-old existing business because you have a group of clientele who have relied on this place,” Hamrah explains, “So we didn’t want to immediately change everything.”
Amanda Elliott and Ben Hamrah took a deliberately strategic approach to their first year running Belly Market and Rotisserie. They took note of positive and negative ratings. This helped gauge the customers’ opinions as well as their own for how best to rewrite the script.
Inevitably, there were show-stopping fan-favorites — such as the star rotisserie chicken. And there were also concepts that simply didn’t make the cut. In the end, the hot case had to meet its final curtain.
The Happy Ending
Beginning in late July 2023, Belly Market and Rotisserie debuted its up-and-coming rotisserie chicken platters. The fall-off-the-bone, slow-roasted rotisserie chicken recipe itself has not much veered since the previous ownership, other than a few small tweaks to make it their own. In terms of the platters, there are now two options beyond the traditional chicken — Middle Eastern Style or Midwestern Style. They’re both Belly’s way of delicious grand gestures. With the mezze platter approach, the chicken—dressed with either the pomegranate molasses, zaatar, and dried roses for a Middle Eastern Style or the traditional chicken seasoning for the Midwestern style—accompanied with enticing seasonal sides.
Speaking on behalf of the mezze sides, Elliot notes, “Instead of going what we think of with traditional coleslaw, potato salad, and baked beans, I wanted to encourage more of that seasonal approach. We’re in the height of summer. It’s the prime time to be able to enjoy these vegetables.”
In most of these movies, there’s a brief encounter where, after a good amount of time spent, a “what-if” moment makes its appearance. The viewer waits in anticipation. Although this wondering of what could be happened off-screen, it wasn’t absent from the story. Elliot took her time with this menu, transforming it into a stunning array of tang and zest.
“I put a lot of thought into how it visually looks first-and-foremost. I really wanted it to be playful and colorful. Aside from that, it was thinking about which vegetables are available and how we can play with them,” Elliot explains.
The takeaway? Try something new that was an unexpected favorite. Go beyond your comfort zone in an atmosphere that feels like home. It’s difficult to go wrong.
The two want guests to leave with a nourishing experience, and — as Elliot says — to be friends.
“The regulars are the thing that warms my heart,” she reflects as Hamrah gives a shout out to regulars Paul and Mary.
Both also stress the thanks and appreciation they direct towards their staff and crew for diligently working on the finished product and helping make this punch-of-flavor, locally-grown, seasonal dish possible.
Hamrah expresses how exhilarating it has been in the kitchen, teaching new plates to the Belly team.
“You’re coming to a place where the product is days old. It was in the ground a few days ago,” he adds. “That’s something we’re excited about, but also to be able to highlight it to the best of its potential in the way Amanda approaches food has been very exciting to teach.”
The happy ending of Belly is certainly a smile-and-call-to-order-pick-up worthy. The market itself has had character growth since rebranding but moving away from the hot case provided for so much fresher, farm-grown options.
Give into your stomach’s infatuation. It’s food that hits every side of the palette. It’s sweet, it’s salty, it’s sour, and it’s herbaceous. And it’s leaving the audience anxiously awaiting the third installment.
Belly Market and Rotisserie is located at 1010 Club Village Dr., in Columbia, Missouri, next to Walgreens off Forum Boulevard.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lydia Graves is a culinary writer enamored with the food communities in both Columbia, Missouri, and Des Moines, Iowa.
With several years in the food and service industry, Lydia has a knowledgeable, descriptive and enticing voice backed by wit and energy. She will graduate with a BFA in communications and a BS in business from Stephens College in spring of 2024.
Read Lydia’s stories here: