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$3.7M food hall opens in Nixa

Officials expect 14 Mill Market to draw foodies and tourists

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Although Rich and Leah Callahan originally envisioned a late 2022 launch for 14 Mill Market, the wait appeared to be worth it for the owners of the Nixa food hall and entertainment venue as they welcomed visitors June 13 to the first full day of operations.

While two of the 10 on-site food vendors – Abby’s Acai Co. and Lindsay’s Kitchen LLC – got an early 7 a.m. start to serve customers breakfast options, the remainder awaited until 11 a.m. to begin lunch service. Just a few minutes before the lunch crowd started placing orders with vendors that form a U-shape perimeter inside the 12,000-square-foot building, Rich Callahan reflected on the project, which has occupied his and his wife’s lives the past two years.

“It’s numbing, almost. Sometimes it doesn’t seem real. This really happened,” he said as he watched customers visit with one another while checking menu boards.

Through Callahan Construction LLC, Callahan served as general contractor for the venture designed by Insight Design Architects LLC, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

“I’m super ecstatic. We’re not big investors; we’re not big developers. This is what me and my wife decided to do for a first project,” he said with a laugh.

Despite the project still having some finishing touches to go, including installation of speakers and televisions inside to provide music and entertainment viewing options, Callahan said it should remain near its $3.7 million budget.

“We’re pushing the budget to an uncomfortable level, but we did keep it there,” he said.

Construction delays pushed the opening back several times, according to past SBJ reporting.

In the hall
At the 3.6-acre venue, roughly 220 seats are indoors and nearly 100 outdoors, along with parking spaces for 108 vehicles. Callahan said the parking filled up in the three soft opening days preceding the June 13 launch, adding the city is also promoting more space for vehicles across the street.

A turf field has been installed for outdoor entertainment options, such as cornhole and boccie, and a stage is available for concerts. Callahan said he expects music will be performed at the venue at least once a week.

Most of the vendors, which signed one-year leases for an undisclosed rate, were announced last year. Pie Paradiso, a pizza-by-the-slice concept and sister company of fellow tenant D’Vine Deli & Wine LLC, was selected by the Callahans last month to replace Travellers House Coffee LLC. The coffee venture pulled out in April due to staffing concerns, according to past reporting.

The other vendors are Fresh Poke LLC, Liege Love Waffle Co., Mo Slider Co., Not’cho Ordinary Taco, Queen City Soul Kitchen LLC and Sno Biz Plus LLC.

Callahan said not counting the vendors’ employees, 14 Mill Market employs a staff of roughly 35. About 15 of them will work in the venue’s in-house bar area. Wisner Bar’s opening, also planned for June 13, was delayed as it awaited approval of its liquor license, he said.

Abby Voelker-Casiday, who co-owns Abby’s Acai Co. with her mother, Kayme Voelker, said the food hall is her first brick-and-mortar spot after nearly three years working from a food truck. The Nixa native has operated the mobile eatery weekly at Farmers Market of the Ozarks but will temporarily step away from that to focus on the new shop.

“The food truck is still available for special events,” she said. “We are planning on going back to the farmers market, maybe after we get a little more settled here.”

For Abby’s Acai, Voelker-Casiday said they spent $10,000 on startup costs at 14 Mill Market, adding the Callahans covered a lot of costs for the vendors. The menu is much larger than the food truck offerings, she said, noting smoothies, both in bowls and cups, as well as dessert options, are new to the business.

“Our concept works perfectly for this because table service isn’t what we do,” she said, adding customers order at the vendor counters. “We don’t do that at the food truck, either. So, it’s a very similar style to what we’ve always done with the food truck.”

As acai bowls are still a newer concept, Voelker-Casiday said she preferred 14 Mill Market as a place to venture beyond a food truck as her company is part of a large destination for foodies.

“This food hall automatically draws people with all the options they have. People can just walk by and learn what it is,” she said of her shop’s menu.

Outside draw
Ashley Johnson, interim president and CEO of the Nixa Area Chamber of Commerce, said she was among those who visited 14 Mill Market during its soft opening.

“I honestly can’t even express the excitement level that I have for it, but also our community as a whole has for it,” she said. “The energy level is just so high, and people are so excited to have it as part of our community.”

Johnson said the food hall has potential to be a regional attraction to draw in tourists along with locals. Coupling 14 Mill Market with the Aetos Center for the Performing Arts, a theater venue of Nixa Public Schools that debuted in February, she said the city “is a really exciting spot right now.”

“There’s just a lot of things that people can come into Nixa now and do,” she said, adding 160 Grand Prix, a local go-kart track amusement park, recently reopened after closing in 2020.

With the food hall’s launch, Johnson said other would-be developers or entrepreneurs can be inspired.

“The Callahans were kind of taking a scary leap of faith,” she said. “Being successful is an inspiration to business owners who are maybe on the fence about whether or not they are going to start a new business or follow their dreams. It’s easier that once you see someone succeed, you can see yourself succeeding.”

Abby Voelker-Cassidy is keeping her food truck as she opens in 14 Mill Market.

Ashley Johnson: The food hall has potential to be a regional attraction.

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