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Shepherd’s Mill Restaurant opens today at Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park.
Provided by Shepherd’s Mill Restaurant
Shepherd’s Mill Restaurant opens today at Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park.

Branson’s Shepherd of the Hills adds restaurant

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The first restaurant since 2002 at the Shepherd of the Hills attraction in Branson began serving customers today after a $2 million construction project.

Shepherd’s Mill Restaurant, 5586 W. 76 Country Blvd., opened this morning, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner in a theme reflective of the late 1880s-set Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park. Jeff Johnson, the adventure park’s co-owner and general manager, said construction on the 6,000-square-foot, 250-seat restaurant development started in July 2018.

“It’s a very rustic overall setting but very tastefully done,” he said, noting the interior features barn wood walls with rusted tin ceilings and wood flooring. It also includes a painting of “The Shepherd of the Hills” author Harold Bell Wright, along with artwork Wright completed, Johnson added.

Upon purchasing the attraction and renaming it Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park in June 2017, Johnson said he and co-owner Steve Faria wanted to eventually rebuild a restaurant on the property. Johnson, a former commercial lender at Simmons Bank, and Faria, whose family owns and operates two Table Rock Lake-area resorts, bought the park for an undisclosed amount, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. The park includes a long-running outdoor theater show, a zip line canopy tour, rock climbing, an off-road ATV adventure and a ropes course.

The park’s previous restaurant, Aunt Mollie’s Cupboard, burned down in 2002 and was never replaced, Johnson said. The nearest restaurant was about two miles away, which meant park visitors had to leave the property to eat.

“A lot of people showed up expecting a restaurant,” Johnson said. “To not have one didn’t make too much sense.”

The new restaurant has a menu in “home cooking tradition,” Johnson said, with items including chicken-fried steak, meatloaf, pulled pork and a ham and cheddar egg casserole.

Johnson said the kitchen is adjacent to the theater space, making for an ideal connection to those wanting to catch a meal with their entertainment.

“It gives us the ability to offer dinner plus a show,” he said. “Dinner shows are very popular.”

Shepherd’s Mill Restaurant is open daily, while the outdoor drama runs through mid-October.

The outdoor drama is based on the book of the same name written by Wright and published in 1907. Wright's visit to the Branson area became the basis for the novel, which according to SBJ archives, was the first book in the United States to sell more than 1 million copies.

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