After months of delays that pushed its opening into 2023, the debut of 14 Mill Market is expected May 13.
A clock on the website of the Nixa food hall and entertainment venue is counting down the days, hours and minutes until the targeted launch, which owners Rich and Leah Callahan say will serve as a soft opening. Leah Callahan said she and her husband hold monthly meetings with their on-site food vendors, which led to bumping back its yet-to-be determined grand opening celebration.
“It’s manageable, but it’s stressful,” Callahan said of the scheduled soft opening. “What they’ve asked us is to consider May 13 our soft opening and run a week of soft openings by invitation only, so that by the next weekend they’re ready to roll. That next weekend is Nixa Sucker Days, so we’re going to go nuts.”
The Callahans are a constant presence on the 3.6-acre project site at 203 E. Mount Vernon St., as Rich serves as general contractor through Callahan Construction LLC. Leah said Base Construction & Management LLC originally was selected to lead the project designed by Insight Design Architects LLC. However, she said the estimated project cost with Base would have exceeded the couple’s $3.7 million budget, which led to the contractor change in the early days of the food hall planning.
During an April 17 walkthrough of the 12,000-square-foot building, Leah Callahan points out its layout, which includes space for 10 food vendors to occupy 320 square feet each along the perimeter. The vendors surround a common area for customers that has capacity for 220 seats indoors, in addition to outdoor seating. Callahan stops to lean up against the bar, noting the 33-foot-long structure was installed days before.
“I’m really excited about all of the outdoor dining and play space,” Callahan said, as she steps on recently installed turf her grandchildren recently got to run around on. “It’s just for a culture of relaxing with families of all ages. I cannot wait to be open to watch everybody.”
The turf, which Callahan said she found on Facebook Marketplace, is one setting for outdoor entertainment options at the venue. It also will include a stage inside a storage container for music concerts and space for games such as cornhole and boccie.
As for delays, she said initially there was a long wait on rebar, which was unable to be ordered early. Even once rebar was in hand, there was significant work ahead to address electricity and plumbing needs for the 10 restaurants and bar.
“The amount of time it took for the underground plumbing and electrical was much longer than we anticipated,” she said, adding construction of the food hall’s custom metal building, which was done on-site, also exceeded time expectations.
The vendor lineup for 14 Mill Market was first announced a year ago, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. All signed one-year leases for an undisclosed rate. The current lineup is Abby’s Acai Co., D’Vine Deli & Wine LLC, Fresh Poke LLC, Liege Love Waffle Co., Lindsay’s Kitchen LLC, Mo Slider Co., Nat’cho Ordinary Taco, Queen City Soul Kitchen LLC and Sno Biz Plus LLC.
Callahan said a 10th vendor, Travelers House Coffee LLC, announced this month it was withdrawing from 14 Mill Market.
“They were very regretful about having to do it, but they are having some serious staffing issues at their three locations,” she said, noting one of the couple’s requirements for its vendors is to be open during the food hall’s operating hours.
“We have good interest, and we have a waiting list,” she said of finding a prospective replacement.
Lindsay Kirtlan, owner of home-based bakery Lindsay’s Kitchen LLC, said she’s excited about the pending opening.
“There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” she said, noting she wrapped up weekly sales this month in Farmers Park at Farmers Market of the Ozarks to turn focus on her 14 Mill Market launch.
She’s in hiring mode now with plans to have a staff of at least 10. Aside from fresh cinnamon rolls, scones and cookies, the bakery also offers mixes for brownies, muffins and pancakes. However, the new venue is leading to a menu expansion, Kirtlan said.
“We’re going to have a full-fledged barista service,” she said, adding plans are to sell coffee with beans sourced from Ozark-based Full Octave Coffee Roasters LLC.
Lindsay’s Kitchen also will sell what she calls Ozark-style bagels, to be offered as sandwiches or on their own with specialty cream cheeses.
“It’s kind of like a mix between a regular bagel, as you might know it, and almost a dinner roll,” she said. “They’re a little bit softer and on the sweeter side.”
Kirtlan, who said she and her husband, Chad, along with their four children, are moving to Nixa from Springfield, estimated startup costs will land around $50,000.
Another incoming food vendor, Queen City Soul Kitchen, should spend less than $10,000 to open, said co-owner Lyle Foster.
Nixa will be the second location for Queen City Soul Kitchen, which began in 2020 as a pop-up restaurant at Big Momma’s Coffee and Espresso Bar LLC, also owned by Foster. The soul food eatery also will retain its name as it expands beyond Springfield, he said.
“We thought this was a chance to maybe go south. I’ve seen the food hall concept in a lot of different cities, so it’s something I’m fairly familiar with. It’s a cool concept,” Foster said. “Sometimes, you just have to say, ‘Well, we’ll see how it goes.’”
The Callahans also were a draw to become part of 14 Mill Market, Foster said.
“I felt like they were clear about what they wanted to do. They are hardworking and sincere, and it felt like they had skin in the game,” he said.
Foster said Queen City initially will rotate three employees from its Springfield restaurant to work in Nixa, as he gauges interest from customers.
“It won’t be the full menu, but it will be what I’d say are our most popular dishes,” he said, noting macaroni and cheese, peach cobbler, chicken wings, meatloaf, collard greens and cornbread will be among items served.
At the food hall, Callahan said gutters currently are being added, while plumbing, electrical and heating, ventilating and air conditioning work is ongoing. The food vendors should be able to start moving in before month’s end, she said, noting despite delays the project has remained on budget.
“We’re now at the finishing point,” she said, adding paint for exterior awnings and inside the building, as well as installation of a couple of garage doors at the bar, are still on the checklist. “I hope this is a place where people can feel rest after busyness.”
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