Rural Missouri - July 2019 - 13

I

by Paul Newton | pnewton@ruralmissouri.coop
nside the cramped kitchen, there's no doubt
it's lunchtime on Wednesday in Lowry City.
Four cast-iron skillets filled with bubbling oil
have increased the mercury by more than a
few degrees. The unmistakable scent of fried poultry fills the air. Diners are hungry. If you know The
Landmark, you know fried chicken.
The Landmark has served home-cooked, country
meals in downtown Lowry City for 40 years. The nofrills restaurant prepares plates like they were on
the farm, dishing up breakfasts, down-home lunches, popular daily specials and homemade desserts.
Jim Kalberloh has owned The Landmark for 33
years. The decision to buy the St. Clair County restaurant known for its pan-fried chicken was a hasty
one. Jim was 21 years old in 1986 and didn't want
to work for anyone but himself. He and his family visited The Landmark for breakfast one Monday
morning and saw it was closing the following week.
The family had operated a three-meal-a-day restaurant where Jim helped. When he broached the
idea of buying The Landmark, Jim was met with
resistance from his father, George. "I kept pestering, telling him we would only serve breakfast and
lunch," the Osage Valley Electric Cooperative member says.
His dad finally agreed, with a lone condition. He
wanted Wanda - a well-known local who had previously fried The Landmark's chicken - to return.
"We called her and she said she'd come back,"
Jim says, noting the restaurant never closed
between owners. "We talked on Thursday, bought it
on Friday and opened on Monday."
Fried chicken is served at The Landmark on
Wednesdays and Sundays. The process begins well
before the breasts, legs and thighs are dropped in
the skillet. Jim gets approximately 40 whole chickens plus a few dozen extra breasts delivered twice
per week. He prefers the whole birds to precut. "I'm
just particular about how they're cut up," the Lowry
City native says.
The pieces are salted and take a buttermilk bath.
"Then we make sure they're covered good in flour
and they go into that hot skillet," Jim says. "That
makes that crispy crunch on the outside of the
chicken. When you bite into it, the juices still come
out and the meat is hot, good and tasty."
The meal is served with two pieces of chicken
- Jim says you can request specific parts of the
bird - and your choice of three sides. There are
about one dozen different side items from which
to choose. Popular options include the homemade
mashed potatoes and white country gravy, green
beans, corn, applesauce and coleslaw.
Other daily specials include ham and beans on
Tuesday and Jim's choice on Thursday. "The first
and third Fridays of the month we have catfish fried
in the cast-iron skillet," the restaurateur says. "The
other Fridays we have some sort of fish."
Looking for more typical lunch counter fare?
Order the cheeseburger or even the double bacon
cheeseburger if you're especially hungry. One-quarter-pound patties of fresh ground beef are seared
on the flattop to order and blanketed with American cheese and bacon. "We've never tried a frozen
burger here," Jim says. "It's just a totally different

burger than what it is at a fast food drive-thru."
Other lunch options include the BLT, pork tenderloin, grilled cheese and chicken strips.
The Landmark doesn't serve dinner, but, lunch
isn't the only meal of the day. Freshly brewed coffee
and just-made sausage gravy start bringing guests
in at 6 a.m. Classics are the name of the game with
their Country Breakfast taking top billing. The simple staple includes two eggs cooked any way, golden-brown hash browns, toast or biscuit and your
choice of four slices of bacon, two patties of sausage
or two pieces of ham. "We have variances of that
where we add biscuits and gravy or add a pancake
or take the hash browns off," Jim says.
You might have to skip lunch if you get the
Refrigerator Omelet. The three-egg omelet is the
creation of a customer who wanted breakfast with
"everything from the refrigerator." It features ham,
mushroom, onion, green pepper, sour cream, tomatoes and American cheese. "I don't want anybody to
go away hungry," Jim says with a laugh.
If you're still hungry, the dessert tray will be calling your name. The Landmark dishes up a variety
of made-from-scratch fruit and cream pies to top off
your meal, with the chocolate and coconut cream
pies being the two most popular. Jim makes the
crusts with lard and offers at least one fruit pie and
two cream pies daily. On fried chicken days, that
number swells and Jim also adds cobbler.
Jim's mom, Ruth, made the pies when he started at The Landmark, but he knew he had to learn.
"Having six kids, my mom would make whole pies
at home," he says. "I remember the day I told her,
'Mom, you have to teach me how to do pies because
one of these days I'll need to know.' "
Getting just the right mix of milk, eggs, sugar
and cornstarch for his pies and making old-fashioned meringue daily might seem like a lot of work,
but it's indicative of the down-home style of food
served at the corner of Main and 3rd streets.
"Just do it from scratch," Jim says. "I didn't go
to any chef school and learn any tricks, but sugar,
salt and butter does a lot of tricks that a lot of restaurants just don't use. It's cooking like Grandma
would do at home and we do it for a reasonable
price."

Above: The fried chicken at The Landmark is cooked in batches on cast-iron skillets every Wednesday and Sunday. Above
right: The pies and cobblers are made from scratch. Second from top: Jim cuts whole chickens to his specifications and they
are seasoned just before dropping in the skillet. Top: Country Breakfast is the most popular early day meal at The Landmark.

The Landmark
Specialties: Specials include catfish, fried chicken and ham and beans. Sandwiches include hot beef, BLT, pork tenderloin and cooked-to-order
burgers. Breakfast includes biscuits and gravy, Refrigerator Omelet, Country Breakfast and the Hungry Man. Homemade pies and cobblers.
Price: Breakfast from $2.25 to $7.25. Sandwiches and platters from $2.75 to $6.50. Dessert from $2.50 to $3.45.
Details: Open Tuesday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Sunday. Cash, checks
and major credit cards accepted. Smoking allowed.
Lowry City

Directions: Located at 301 S. Main St. in Lowry City.
Contact: 417-644-2349

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Rural Missouri - July 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2019

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Rural Missouri - July 2019 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - July 2019 - Contents
Rural Missouri - July 2019 - 4
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