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Restaurant, bar nears opening in former Ozark church

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The owners of a newly renovated Ozark church are about two weeks out from opening their restaurant, bar and event venue dubbed The Finley.

Stephanie Mitchell, the 206 E. Elm St. establishment’s owner with her husband Terry, said an exact opening date for the concept hasn’t been cemented. It will “definitely” be in September, she said, noting the final holdup is filling staff positions.

“We’ve tried to utilize a lot of the history of Ozark and modernize it,” she said. “It’s a beautiful building. We have some stained glass windows that came from a local funeral home before it was demolished.”

The 8,500-square-foot space holds a restaurant and speakeasy basement bar that will be open to the public, as well as areas such as the church’s old sanctuary and a private club for rent.

“It’s been an extensive renovation. It has taken about 11 months,” Mitchell said, declining to estimate renovation costs. “We’ve repurposed a lot of the decor in the building.”

The Finley pays tribute to the Finley River, Mitchell said, noting the owners picked that name to play on the history of the area.

“The Finley River is historically the reason that Ozark exists. It was very developed on the river and then it moved to the downtown area where it is now,” she said.

The Mitchells hired chef Clint Gray, a former Bass Pro Shops employee who Stephanie Mitchell said helped the retailer launch restaurants nationwide during a 20-year period.

Terry Mitchell comes from a background at Price Cutter as controller for more than 15 years, and before that, worked at Banta Foods.

“He has a lot of contacts in the industry,” Stephanie Mitchell said, noting she works part-time as a veterinarian’s assistant and raises horses.


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