A Little History about The Blue Owl
With the love, and support of my wonderful family, friends, neighbors, “From the Kitchen of Mary” was established in August of 1983. Creating a flavorful assortment of homemade pastries, cookies, cakes, cheesecakes, pies, and candies became a daily challenge. Sold at craft shows, festivals, and fairs in the St. Louis area, the demand for quality, homemade bakery production continued to grow.
Christmas of 1984, I received orders for 30,000 Christmas cookies and pastries. With only three weeks to fill orders, I found it was necessary to work 21 hours a day, seven days a week until Christmas finally arrived. With the demand exceeding my ability to produce, my dream was to have a commercial location with the commercial equipment and a few employees to help produce the same delicious bakery goods.
On a warm day in June 1985, I first set eyes on The Blue Owl Restaurant. Mrs. Lucianna Ross, the matriarch of Kimmswick, met me there to discuss the possibility of my combining an already successful home baking business with a country tearoom. Before I left The Blue Owl that day, Mrs. Ross and I agreed that I would “give it a try” and open the main dining room in the quaint, old building located at 2nd and Mill Street. Enthusiastically, I predicted that “people would have to wait in line to get a table at The Blue Owl.” That dream is now a reality. That August, I hired five employees, set a goal of serving 30 customers a day and nervously opened the doors of The Blue Owl Restaurant and Bakery in historic Kimmswick, Missouri. We serve over 300 customers a day during the week, and many more on Saturdays and Sundays. That staff of 5 has grown to 75, each contributing to our success. How blessed I am to have such a wonderful staff! Without their hard work and persistent dedication, my job would be impossible. I could not accept the many opportunities which are ever-present without the love, support and dedication of these very special individuals. Their creativity, dedication, enthusiasm, pride, and treasured friendships are visible every day at The Blue Owl. My feelings of nervousness have been replaced with pride and the commitment to provide quality, fresh food, a warm atmosphere and an extraordinary dining experience to every customer. There have been challenges and highlights. The “Great Flood of ’93” was a threat to the entire Kimmswick community and caused the evacuation of The Blue Owl. We were saved by the gallant sandbagging efforts of thousands of volunteers and the National Guard, who built the earthen levee outside our back door. On the occasion of our tenth anniversary, The Blue Owl staff created. “The Anniversary Quilt.” Each staff member personalized a square of the hand-quilted treasure. It is displayed in the entrance and is featured on the front cover of “Creation for Sharing,” one of our nine cookbooks.
On January 17, 1998, I received the restaurant industry “Women of Achievement” award. What a tremendous honor! That evening, I was also presented with the prestigious award for “Restaurateur of the Year – 1997” awarded by the Greater St. Louis Restaurant Association. The presence of my dear friends, loved ones, co-workers, and fellow restaurateurs created one of the most memorable evenings of my life! In March of 2000, I married my wonderful husband, Jerry, surrounded by our children and grandchildren. Spending time with family is so important! Dinners are cherished in our home as a time to gather and share a meal with our grown children: Kimberly and husband Chris, Kelly and her husband Shawn, Christopher and his wife Julie, Andy and his wife Anne, and our grandchildren Brett, Ryan, Brendan, Elise, Anna, and Sophia. Dinner is often followed by the grandchildren’s request to make cookies, only to devour the dough before any cookies can be baked! Memories—precious and dear to my heart!
Our 20th Anniversary Celebration in 2005 was filled with excitement and surprises! The Blue Owl Staff designed a beautiful glass mosaic which features the name of each staff member. This awesome treasure hangs in our front entrance opposite the 10th Anniversary Quilt!
Jamie and Bobby Deen brought their Food Network Show “Road Tasted,” to The Blue Owl in 2006 and featured our Famous Levee High Apple Pie® with Caramel Pecan Topping. Now, through our website many of our homemade desserts ship around the US for folks to enjoy. In 2007, Paula Deen’s staff invited me as a guest to “Paula’s Party,” a show filmed in Savannah, Georgia. The shows have aired all over the world. It was an honor to host a reception for Paula Deen in St. Louis when she released her Memoirs.
In 2008, we purchased the building next door at 118 Market Street. I wanted to create a natural extension of the Blue Owl and prayed that God would lead me in the right direction. As a child, my Mom and Dad would take us to the Star Dairy, an old-fashioned soda fountain in Galveston, TX. Those fond childhood memories lead to The Blue Owl® Sweet Shoppe becoming a reality! We also created an old-fashioned candy shop featuring over 50 kinds of homemade candies and a gift shop for kids of all ages. In 2010, we opened The Blue Owl® Sweet Shoppe in Festus, MO, featuring select Blue Owl Menu items as well as our award-winning desserts and ice cream specialties. That accomplishment lead to the opening of our most recent location in House Springs, MO.
Also, in 2010, The Travel Channel featured us on a show called Pie Paradise!. In 2011, The Blue Owl Levee High Apple Pie® was chosen as One of Oprah’s Favorite Things in O Magazine and by OWN, The Oprah Network. People are coming from all over the world as a result of our national exposure! Our mail-order desserts were also recommended as a top gift pick by The Today Show.
My oldest daughter, Kim has lived the Blue Owl’s dream since it’s inception and has been an employee since 1997, taking an active roll in striving to maintain the Blue Owl’s reputation. She has been instrumental in the expansion of our business. Kim’s achievements include the creation of our website, online gift shop, and The Blue Owl® Sweet Shoppe. My precious husband, Jerry, continues to be our official “GoFor” He “goes for” everything we forget! His presence at the Blue Owl is always welcomed by our customers and staff! My life continues to be filled with special people and precious moments—each a blessing. There are many times that I think about that summer of 1985 as I prayed that I was making the right decision to open a restaurant and bakery in a little town “off the beaten path.” I realize that my prayers are being answered each and every day as we continue to grow in knowledge, experience, size, and popularity. We’re thankful for our wonderful friends and customers who come from near and far, hoping to share the experience of a wonderful meal in a setting “just like home.”
P.S. And yes… dreams really do come true