A Little History about The Blue Owl
With the love and support of my wonderful family, friends and neighbors, “From the Kitchen of Mary” was established in August of 1983. Creating an assortment of homemade pastries, cookies, cakes, cheesecakes, pies and candies became a daily challenge. I attended craft shows and festivals in the Greater St. Louis area on weekends. The demand for quality, homemade baked goods continued to grow. By Christmas of 1984, I received orders for 30,000 Christmas cookies and pastries. With only three weeks to fill orders, it was necessary to work 21 hours a day, seven days a week until Christmas finally arrived. My dream was to have a location with commercial equipment and a few employees to help with production.
On a warm day in May 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 combining my already successful home baking business with a country tea room. Before I left that day, Mrs. Ross and I agreed that I would “give it a try” and open the quaint, old building. Enthusiastically, I predicted that, “people would have to wait in line for 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. 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 and support of these very special individuals. Their creativity, enthusiasm, pride and treasured friendships are visible every day at the The Blue Owl®. My feelings of nervousness have been replaced with prayers of thanksgiving and the commitment to provide quality, fresh food, a warm atmosphere and an extraordinary dining experience to every guest.
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 “Creations for Sharing”, one of our nine cookbooks. Other expansions were “Lucianna’s Tearoom”, “Ms. Mary’s Veranda” enclosed by twenty six French doors so everyone can enjoy a warm, toasty lunch, even on a snowy day, and at last a parking lot! In our eleventh year, we completed a retail bakery and waiting area and a more efficient kitchen facility for our staff. Our 12th anniversary saw remodeling of “The Owl’s Nest”, the addition of a handicap restroom and renovations making the “Texas Tearoom” more airy and inviting.
On January 17, 1998, I received the “Women of Achievement” award and the prestigious “Restaurateur of the Year – 1997” for the Greater St. Louis area from the Greater St. Louis Restaurant Association. What tremendous honors. 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, Kimberly and Kelly, Chris and Andy. Spending time with family is so important! Dinners in our home are a cherished time to gather and share a meal with our precious family, including our nine beautiful grandchildren. 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!
Jaimie and Bobby Deen brought their Food Network show “Road Tasted” to The Blue Owl® in May 2006 and featured our famous Levee High Apple Pie™ with Caramel Pecan Topping. Now, through our website, many of our homemade desserts can be shipped around the US for folks to enjoy. In January of 2007, I was invited to be a guest on “Paula’s Party”, and was honored to teach Paula Deen how to make our Levee High Apple Pie™. The shows have aired all over the world.
In 2010, ‘The Travel Channel’ featured us on Pie Paradise! And in 2011, Oprah’s O Magazine and The Oprah Show featured our Levee High© Caramel Apple Pecan Pie as one of Oprah’s “Top 100 Favorite Things for the Holidays”. The ‘Today Show’ in New York featured our famous pie in 2011 and 2016, as well as, The Food Network Magazine, Midwest Living, Bon Appetit, The Wall Street Journal and many more! People visit the Blue Owl from all over the world as a result of our national exposure!
My daughter, Kim, has lived “The Blue Owl®” dream since its inception and continuously strives to maintain The Blue Owl’s® reputation. I am so proud of Kim and her many achievements over the years. Her achievements include the creation of our website, Online Gift Shop, The Blue Owl® Sweet Shoppe, the creation of our production facility which produces all of our Blue Owl® baked goods, as well as the Shipping, Wedding and Wholesale departments.
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 in my life! There are many times that I think about the 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. I am so thankful for our wonderful friends and guests who come from near and far to share the experience of a wonderful meal in a setting “just like home”!
P.S. And yes… dreams really do come true!