These Lake of the Ozarks entrepreneurs have built successful businesses from the ground up. From Ozark moonshine to handmade soaps and award-winning barbecue, we highlight some of the best products made by small, family-owned businesses right here at the Lake.
Find it at: Paul's Supermarket, Lake Liquor, Woods Supermarket, and several restaurants including Baxter's, Backwater Jack's, Wobbly Boots, Dog Days and JJs at the Copper Pot. Website has a full list of locations.
Location 1684 Hwy. KK, Osage Beach
Online www.ozarkdistillery.com and on Ozark Distillery on Facebook
All it took was a Facebook post announcing they were open, and just after lunch, owners Dave and Tiffhany Huffman sold their first bottle of moonshine. Since the couple opened Ozark Distillery in March, they’ve been busy making jugs of corn whiskey out of the same building in Osage Beach that houses their property management company. Dave has been operating a real estate and vacation rental business, serving Tan-Tar-A Estates, for 17 years.
He's always been interested in making spirits and dabbled with making wine and beer at home. This “dabbling” propelled him to open his own distillery, and he learned the process of turning corn, wheat, rye and barley into a high-quality libation.
The distillery makes corn whiskey, labeled "moonshine," and ages batches of bourbon whiskey in oak barrels. The Huffmans hope to make the whiskey available later this year. Formula approval is currently pending on other flavors of moonshine, including Vanilla Bean, Peach Cobbler, Butterscotch and Pink Lemonade. Apple Pie was released in August.
Dave spends many evenings at the distillery, mashing grain and running the still. All of the equipment used in the process was custom made for the distillery.
"Our moonshine is not some backwoods swill that tastes bad and is harsh," Dave said. "With the time-consuming process we use, it's a very clean, high-end product and mixes well with just about anything." Recipes are offered on their website.
Unlike much of the moonshine available on the market, Ozark Distillery’s moonshine is handcrafted, using Missouri-grown corn and all Missouri-made products with the exception of the corks and malted barley due to availability.
Future plans are to grow the distillery and offer more formal tours with a welcome center and tasting room. But anyone is welcome to visit the distillery now for samples and a tour. Just call ahead and make an appointment.
"We want everyone who visits to have a good time and learn a bit about how the process works," Dave said.
You can find Ozark Distillery’s moonshine at nearly 70 locations around the Lake and surrounding communities.
Fun fact: The corn whiskey is distilled four times, making it cleaner and smoother. The finished product is 100 proof or 50 percent alcohol.
Page 2 of 5 - The Bread Bowl Bakery
Hours Wednesday-Sunday from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Check for fall hours.
Location 1375 Bagnell Dam Blvd., Lake Ozark (in Luby's Plaza)
Online Bread Bowl on Facebook
So far it's been a busy season for The Bread Bowl. During the summer months, employees were working around-the-clock to provide pastries, cakes and fresh-baked bread to many local restaurants that depend on these goodies to keep their customers happy. Over the last 13 years, owners Jack Leaver, Sr., Jack Leaver, Jr., and manager and son John Leaver, have become known by some of the Lake’s most popular restaurants as the “go to guys” for quality breads and pastries ― they’ve secured more than 140 wholesale clients.
When the demand for their products increased at local farmers markets and the public started calling, requesting their baked goods, the Leavers decided to open their business to the retail sector this past April, and now serve walk-in customers as well.
During the height of the summer season, as many as 50,000 pieces of bread are turned out daily. And from behind the counter, The Bread Bowl's new cafe offers pastries, donuts, different kinds of bread, cookies and other daily offerings. Hoagies, hamburger buns and dinner rolls are picked up by the dozen. Custom orders, including birthday cakes, can be filled with a few days’ notice. All of the production takes place in a factory on the Bagnell Dam Strip.
Everything is made from scratch with recipes they've perfected over the years. "Anyone who works with us cares about quality," Jack says.
Any time, day or night, the factory is in motion. An assembly line moves as dough is measured out. Loaves of fresh bread emerge from the oven. Bagels are bagged and cupcakes are topped with icing.
Fun fact: By special order, you can have The Bread Bowl make you a pie that's baked into a cake.
Find it at: Paul's Supermarkets, Hy-Vee in Osage Beach and about a dozen other locations statewide, Dierbergs, G2M in Laurie, and on their website.
Online www.jeffboyardeefoods.com and Jeffboyardeefoods on Facebook
Food, ordering, sales, packaging ― it all happens in the Lake Ozark home of Jeffrey Witt and Gracie Pease. Production of just a few batches of pickles or salsa can be an all day affair.
Witt, owner of Jeffboyardee foods, is nearing the end of a successful first year in business. With the help of his girlfriend and vice president Gracie Pease, Jeff makes pickles and salsas that are flying off store shelves at more than 30 locations statewide.
The business focuses on three different products: sweet and spicy pickles, sweet and spicy relish and salsa. There are mild and hot versions of all three. The couple is currently working on a relish and smoked salsa, with plans to launch both in 2014.
Page 3 of 5 - The process of getting the product into the market is time consuming and takes skilled preparation and precise timing. It takes hours to make just a few batches and, since everything is done in their “normal sized” kitchen, they can only cook two batches at a time. Depending on demand for the week, they have to plan sleep around certain steps in the production process.
Witt says he's been trying to find his way in the culinary world since attending Johnson and Wales Culinary University in Providence, Rhode Island. After making the pickles and salsa for family and friends, the couple decided to start their at-home business. The salsa is an authentic-style recipe that Witt learned while living in Texas.
Last year, the couple spent a lot of time handing out samples and conducting research to perfect their products. Early in 2013, their products started appearing on store shelves, including Paul's and Hy-Vee.
“Eventually, we would like to partner with a distributor to get our products to a wider customer base, but we are taking our time and trying to do things the right way.”
Fun fact: Four batches of pickles makes about 60 jars, or five cases. Some weeks the company sells as many as 70 cases.
Divine Scents Soap Company
Find it at: The Osage Beach Farmers market on Saturdays through October, Natures Remedies in Laurie, Lake Embroidery by Design in Linn Creek, local craft fairs and festivals, and on their website.
Online www.divinescentssoap.com and Divine Scents Soap on Facebook
With an ever-increasing demand for organic products, RuthAnn Matthews has been able to turn her hobby into a business, making skin and body products without the use of chemicals. She operates the Divine Scents Soap Company out of a corner of her Sunrise Beach home. Matthews creates handcrafted soaps; solid lotions; bath salts, bombs and soaks; body butters; "cupcake" soaps, scrubs and chemical-free perfume that are all beneficial to your skin and the environment. There are nine different products available in a variety of scents.
"With all the chemicals and extras in our food and other products in today's world, I think it is our job as consumers to know what is in our food and products," she says.
Originally from Colorado, Matthews moved to the Lake six years ago and opened the business in 2012. She has been a licensed cosmetologist for 15 years, using her experience and knowledge and incorporating it into her business.
While many scents come from essential oils (extracted from plants and flowers) such as the Lavender Mint and Lemongrass, she uses some man-made fragrances to offer customers a wider range of products. These nearly- natural soaps include the Oatmeal Milk and Island Breeze.
"I love creating the products ― using different colors, scents and designs, and educating customers," she said. Matthews introduces new creations frequently. Most popular are the Lavender Mint, Lemongrass and the Bug Me Not soaps.
Page 4 of 5 - She uses local products like honey, beeswax and lavender, and everything is Paraben and Phthalate-free. She only uses preservatives when required. They are not tested on animals, are Vegan-friendly, do not have added artificial ingredients, and still has the naturally-produced glycerin left in.
"Customers are excited to try a locally-made product, and like that they know where the product is made, the simplicity of our ingredients, and uniqueness of the product," Matthews says.
Even the label that's wrapped around the soap can be utilized. The Lotka paper is from Nepal and is embedded with wildflower seeds. Plant it and watch the seeds grow!
Fun fact: In cold process soap making, the soap is left to cure for a minimum of four weeks after being poured into a mold.
Studio Joe Coffee Co.
Find it at: Hy-Vee in Osage Beach, at The Village Market & Cafe and on their website.
Cafe Hours 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 9 p.m. on weekends
Location 2599 State Rd. MM, Sunrise Beach
Online www.studiojoecoffee.com, or Studio Joe Coffee Co. on Facebook
Many people won’t start their day without a morning cup of joe. It takes a lot of effort to go from coffee bean to cup. Luckily for java drinkers, the owners of Studio Joe Coffee work hard to keep store shelves stocked with an assortment of their whole beans.
Melissa and Chris Galloway recently purchased The Studio Joe Coffee Company, after Chris heard about the company from a friend who played with him in a band. Even though the business had only been established for a short time, its growth was more than its original owners could handle.
Studio Joe is a perfect fit for the Galloways, who own The Village Market & Cafe on Shawnee Bend. The convenience store/restaurant serves made-from-scratch baked goods and has a full menu at the cafe.
"We had been buying Studio Joe Coffee beans and grinding them to make our coffee at home, and had become passionate about it," Chris said.
The coffee is full of flavor and free of much of the acid which can steer some people away from drinking coffee. The couple buys quality beans from around the world and roasts them right on the premises. It takes about 15 minutes to roast roughly 2.5 pounds of coffee. Roasting is an art that requires careful timing and a skilled eye. The more time in the roaster, the darker the bean.
Once the beans are roasted, Chris pushes to get them in consumers’ hands within a few weeks to ensure freshness. They sell the beans whole, and Chris recommends everyone buy a coffee grinder for their home.
Page 5 of 5 - "We hope to educate people that the absolute best and economical way to make coffee is to grind your beans just before you make it whether it is a pot or a single cup," he said.
Their most popular blend is Garage Band, a medium roasted Columbian bean. They offer 14 different kinds, including decaffeinated.
Chris likes to inform customers about the difference between a quality coffee shop brew versus what you might find with some name-brand coffees, many of which have additives which affect freshness.
Chris says their goal is to become a regional player in the coffee industry.
Fun fact: When the coffee bean cracks twice, it is seconds away from being roasted.
The Family Jewels Gourmet Merchants
Find it at: Seven Springs Winery, Osage Outdoors in Laurie and on their website.
Joe and Sandra Johno enjoy a status barbecue lovers everywhere only dream of ― a coveted trophy at the American Royal sauce competition (the World Series of barbecue) for Best Sauce on the Planet.
The couple is known for offering some of the best barbecue, grilling and finishing sauces on the market. And the magic all takes place out of their manufacturing facility in Montreal.
In 2002 alone their sauces won 26 international food awards. To date, the total is 69.
Sandra, who moved to the Lake area with her husband, Joe, in 1986 from St. Louis, has a background in promotional graphic art and marketing. While still in St. Louis, they manufactured and distributed apparel for the Cardinals, the St. Louis Blues, Anheuser Busch, 7UP, Coke and other companies. The couple continued imprinting resort wear at the Lake, with sales across the United States.
Sandra's creative talents extend to cooking. For years her hobby was to make barbecue sauces, which her family enjoyed, so the Johnos began bottling their sauce for the public. All the recipes are Sandra's, who also created the label design and content for each bottle. The couple has produced three brands: Fat Bastard, Drop Dead Delicious and Holy Smoke.
Today, they make 25 sauces, all a type of barbecue sauce consisting of sweet tomatoes, vinegars, mustards, fruits, teriyaki and just plain hot. Each sauce is different; the variety of flavors offered includes the Holy Smoke Caramel Fire dessert topping, and a pepper jelly which goes great on cream cheese.
To ensure quality, the Johnos make small batches of no more than 50 gallons at a time. The products are never warehoused for longer than two weeks before being shipped to gourmet food stores, wineries, butcher shops and fresh produce markets.
Fun fact: Many of their sauces have been featured on the Food Network.