Regional heritage draws diners to The Ozark Mill at Finley Farms.

Chicken and dumplings. Cornbread baked in cast-iron skillets. Green tomato cake.

These are a few of the Ozarks-inspired, farm-to-table favorites diners can choose at The Ozark Mill at Finley Farms. Owned by Bass Pro Shops owner and conservationist Johnny Morris, the restaurant opened last September and brings new purpose to a historic mill on the Finley River in the southwest Missouri town of Ozark. It’s another major attraction on a riverside corner that now includes a coffee shop, a creative workshop for makers, a seasonal farmers market, and an urban farm.

Just as the restored early 19th-century structure honors the community’s heritage, the lunch and dinner menus at the restaurant pay homage to regional foods and recipes.

Executive Chef Kevin Korman

“The mill used to grind wheat and corn, so we incorporated the heritage wheat into the pizza dough in a few different ways,” says Executive Chef Kevin Korman. “We ferment it, make a sourdough, and make this really great artisan crust.” He adds that ground cornbread is used for the dumplings that accompany the chicken.

Not only that, but most recipe ingredients come from either the nearby farm or other local farmers.

The fresh peas and radishes, pickled okra, sauteed zucchini, and roasted red peppers on a seasonal farmer’s board were grown by resident farmers Liesel McCleary and Brendan Sinclair on land near what used to be a farm store. Throughout the year, shiitake mushrooms from their “mushroom yard” top one of the fire-roasted pizzas served at lunch.

Korman says that other local farmers bring ingredients to the table, including goat cheese, bison meat, and even honey— at least until bees at the new apiaries at the farm become more productive.

Last fall, freezers held some 500,000 green tomatoes for what Korman says is “hands-down” the mill’s signature dish: green tomato cake.

“If you look into the history, it’s an old Southern recipe that just kind of faded away,” he says. “It’s like the carrot cake you’ve never had.”

802 Finley Farms Lane, Ozark 417-210-6644 |

Photos—Susan Atteberry Smith