Sirros began life backward.

Although the restaurant technically opened in 1989, the spot at 261 Merchant Street in historic downtown Ste. Genevieve first began serving food in 1934, when the Orris Cafe debuted with a seventy-five-cent, three-course chicken dinner.

It became, over the decades, a soda fountain, a pizza parlor, and even a TV repair shop before it was left vacant for many years. Richard Greminger, who owned the neighboring Orris theater, bought the building in 1984 and opened Sirros—Orris spelled backward with an “s” tagged on—a few years later.

Since then, it’s been a favorite among wine country tourists and locals alike. Longtime manager Lauren Smothers says consistency keeps them coming back. “Good service, good food,” she says. “You just know when you go there, it’s going to be familiar faces and good service.”

The onion rings help, too. One of the signature items, the onion rings, are cut and fried and made to order, making them the restaurant’s most popular item by far. The ninety-seat restaurant is also well known for its French dip and Saturday night pasta specials.

Southwest Salad

Sirros offered some carryout options before COVID-19 hit, but they’ve been able to pivot and streamline the menu a little to make takeout more efficient. You can grab a number of pub classics, like burgers, wings, and potato skins, plus the only local pizza in town.

“The chains have it down to an art, so that was all kind of a learning curve: simplifying our menu a little bit to make more items of a better quality when you get carryout,” Lauren says. They did shut down completely for a several weeks in spring 2020 but were able to stay afloat.

“We reopened with a limited menu, and we all wear masks. We removed some tables and encourage social distancing at the restaurant. We removed all our bar stools. I want people to feel safe here,” she says. “We pulled through. It’ll take a while to catch up, but we’re still hanging in there. The support of the community was just great.”

At one point in the 1930s, the soda fountain in the Sirros building was the lone bus stop between St. Louis and Cape Girardeau. Travelers have a wide array of options now, but few are as embedded in the community as Sirros.

“Keep supporting your mom-and-pop places,” Lauren says. “We hope that when you do come in, it’s a good experience. You don’t just get some food thrown at you and, you know, see you later. We want you to feel at home, feel comfortable, and leave with a smile on your face. Just spread the love, be happy, embrace change.”

261 Merchant Street, Ste. Genevieve Normal operating hours are Mondays–Thursdays 11 am–8 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11 am–9 pm, and Sundays 11 am–8 pm. 573-883-5749