Rural Missouri - July 2017 - 19
by Heather Berry | email@example.com
hen most people head out to do a little family history research they
usually come back home with copies of old photos or the proper
spellings for the names of long lost relatives to help complete the
Not so for Jeannie Parker. When she returned to her Branson home from
such a trip in central Missouri, Jeannie told her husband, Cary, she'd seen
something in the little town of Gerald that tied to her family - and she absolutely had to have it. After hearing her vision, Cary agreed.
The gem she'd spied was the old, rundown Gerald Roller Mill in the center of
town that her grandfather, Gustav Helling, and his father, Peter, built in 1903.
The mill, which has been home to several businesses during the past 100 years,
was now standing silent and in major disrepair.
So in 2014, the couple made plans to uproot from Branson and head to the
quiet burg of Gerald, population 1,300. They purchased the mill property in
December that year and opened their eatery, Bistro at the Mill, in June 2015.
The couple turned the mill's warehouse into their home and renovated a
space in the mill for one of their three sons, Andrew, to have an apartment, too.
The Parkers bring a background in entertainment and amusement park
management with them to the business, so opening a restaurant in an old mill
didn't seem to be an odd thing to them. They knew they wanted to breathe new
life into the historic landmark and offer great food for a good price.
"We wanted to offer a menu that was unique to the area but also that had a
twist," says Cary. The menu offers a great variety of hot and cold sandwiches,
soups, salads, single-serving pizzas and more. Much of the "twist" Cary refers
to comes in the special sauces and seasonings they use with their menu. They
also showcase unique items you don't ﬁnd every day on most menus. They're
just ﬂavors the Parkers enjoy and have found their customers do, too.
"We create some sauces we like to use for great ﬂavor combinations and we
also have something Jeannie likes to call 'mill dust' that we use as a meat rub,"
he adds. "We offer everything from braunschweiger to bratwurst made by Swiss
Meats in Hermann, Greek-inspired stuffed grape leaves and tzatziki dip, and
Mediterranean ﬂavors in dishes like falafel and hummus."
While that may seem pretty exotic to the untraveled tongue, there are plenty
of options you have heard of before.
One of the best ways to start your meal would be to simply order the appetizer sampler platter to share. That way you can try all the appetizers currently
offered. The order includes hummus, stuffed grape leaves, tahini sauce, tzaziki
dip, feta cheese, olives and tomatoes with toasted pita points. You may also
want to order a glass of wine from White Mule Winery, some Copper Run moonshine or a bottle of cold brew to go with your appetizer or meal.
Sandwich fans will not be disappointed as the menu showcases 24 selec-
tions, with half of those being hot options. These include the fan favorite Reuben, with a pile of thinly-sliced corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut served
on toasted marble rye with mustard or Thousand Island dressing. You also can
order your Reuben with turkey if you prefer.
Fans of a little heat may prefer a Spicy Hot Ham & Cheese - a delicious
blend of provolone cheese, red onion, bell peppers, garlic mayo and hot sauce
- or the Garlic Chicken, with its grilled chicken breast served on an onion bun
with provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, bell pepper and garlic mayo. A
Firehouse Gyro is another option. It's a combination of lamb and beef which has
been cooked on a rotating spit for hours, then served in a soft pita bread with
tahini sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and spicy pickled vegetables.
The Bistro also offers the Turkish-inspired shawarma, ﬁlled with a delicious
Mediterranean seasoned beef brisket and served in pita bread with tahini sauce,
lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles. Its unique blend of earthy seasonings
gives it a unique ﬂavor.
Regular sandwiches include an Italian Muffaletta served on fresh focaccia
bread with ham, salami, mortadella and provolone cheese and the Bistro's
homemade olive salad; the corned beef and cheese, or Albacore tuna sandwich
served over leaf lettuce tomatoes and red onion.
All sandwiches come with chips, pasta salad or red skin potato salad.
Salad fans have many options, including a Greek salad with feta cheese,
kalamata olives and chicken or gyro meat, or the curry chicken or albacore tuna
salad to name a few. During the summer, a fresh spinach salad is added to the
menu, with toasted walnuts, Gorgonzola cheese, tomatoes, red onions, mandarin oranges and raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Be sure to add a cup of soup to
your order, for the eatery is known for their soups, which sell out quickly.
Pizza fans might simply want to order a small salad and the 7-inch personalsized pizza as a meal. Choices include BBQ Chicken, Vegetarian, Mediterranean
Chicken, Greek, Gyros and Spicy Chicken.
The bistro doesn't have enough kitchen space at this time to produce a lot
of baked goods, so dessert options are more the "enjoy with your coffee or as a
snack" option and include a variety of cupcakes, scones and baklava.
Cary wears a lot of hats, including mayor of Gerald. He's hoping their restaurant and other local businesses encourage travelers to take Highway 50 across
the state instead of opting for the busy interstate.
"We hear a lot of people say they're tired of the interstate and want a more
scenic drive across Missouri,' " Cary says, adding city dwellers are starting to
buy small farms in the area to have a quiet place away from the city.
So what draws guests to the Bistro at the Mill?
"The history of our venue, the fact we don't take ourselves too seriously but
we take customer service seriously. That all ties back to our goal of offering a
good product for good people at a good price. And I think we do a great job," says
Cary, "So come join us for some hometown hospitality."
This photo shows the Gerald Roller Mill as it looked in 1910. The Parkers have decorated their bistro with many mill artifacts and photos found over the years.
The Bistro's BBQ Beef Brisket Sandwich is a fresh pita ﬁlled with tender brisket which
has been rubbed in Mediterranean seasoning and roasted hours before being served.
Bistro at the Mill
Specialties: Loaded BBQ Beef Brisket, Chicken Bacon Ranch and Spicy Hot Ham & Cheese sandwiches; fresh soups
and salads. Daily specials. Kids menu available.
Price: Appetizers from $5.49 to $9.99. Sandwiches from at $4.99 to $7.99. Personal-sized pizzas are all $6.99.
Details: Open 7 days a week; Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Cash,
local checks, major credit cards accepted. Dine in or carry out; light catering locally. Second ﬂoor at the mill is available for
receptions, parties, reunions, dances or weddings. Free Wi-Fi. Alcohol available. Non-smoking.
Directions: Located at 315 S. Pine St. in Gerald.
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Contact: 573-764-2224 or search for Gerald Roller Mill's "Bistro at the Mill" on Facebook.
JULY 2017 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP