SPRINGFIELD, MO – A trio of foodies known for their pop-up dining experiences in and around Springfield are infusing Farmers Park with their culinary and cocktail creations.
Chef Daniel Ernce, beverage director Michael “Jersey” Schmitz and front-of-house manager Cassidy Rollins are behind Progress, a restaurant without walls that’s gained a following with thoughtful tasting menus, creative wine pairings and attentive guest service. But after more than two years on the move, these nomadic artisans are setting up shop in Springfield’s premier mixed-use community and home to the popular Farmers Market of the Ozarks.
Ernce, Schmitz and Rollins have partnered with O’Reilly Hospitality Management to open Progress as a full-service restaurant in the space most recently occupied by Metropolitan Farmer. Joining Progress is Reverie, an upstairs bar that will entice thirsty patrons with a seasonal cocktail menu and relaxing rooftop patio. Infill is underway, and the bar is expected to open its doors in September. There’s no gimmick or pretention with Reverie, just a wide selection of cocktails, wine and beer that are fit for both casual drinkers and aficionados.
“We didn’t want to pigeonhole ourselves as a whiskey bar, rum bar or tequila bar,” Schmitz said. “We want to be free to create the best possible bar experience we can, ranging from the quality and variety of the beverage to service, atmosphere and food offerings.”
The bar’s name speaks to the notion of a dreamlike state and a pleasant escape from the day-to-day, Rollins said. She noted the interior design is inspired by Nordic and Japanese cultures and will incorporate symbols like a three-legged crow, which represents each partner and their commitment to high-quality food, beverage and service.
“We want to create a bar that’s striking yet approachable and a place that allows guests to feel comfortable and enjoy themselves,” Rollins said. “We’ve worked hard with our designer to create a unique space unlike anything in Springfield.”
The menu at Progress will depart from the lengthy tasting menus that defined the pop-up series and instead feature a la carte options, ranging from light dishes to large, sharable cuts of meat. Guests can share dishes, experience a variety of flavors and ingredients and curate their own experience. Ernce described it as “choose-your-own-adventure” dining, from a quick bite to an indulgent, drawn-out affair. The restaurant will continue to host multi-course tasting menus once a month.
Ernce, whose culinary arc took him from a food innovation firm with the Marlin Network to a restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, doesn’t like labels when it comes to dining. The menu will feature a wide range of globally influenced dishes, including flavors from Korean, Middle Eastern, Italian and Japanese cultures, as well as unexpected pairings, such as a fried chicken sandwich with Japanese sake.
“The food at Progress isn’t going to have rules,” he said. “We want to be driven by flavor, using the ingredients around us, but adding touches of global cultures to make the dishes exciting and memorable. If it’s truly delicious and makes sense, then why wouldn’t we serve it?”
The restaurant will also feature a strong bar program with an extensive wine list inclusive of both old world and new world wines curated by Schmitz.
“We’re honored to be working with Chef Ernce, Cassidy and Michael and have personally witnessed and been amazed by their collective creative abilities and talents,” said OHM CEO Tim O’Reilly. “Southwest Missouri is in for an incredible treat.”
Ernce expects the Ozarks to embrace the offerings at Progress and Reverie and believes Farmers Park—with its focus on local fare and homegrown innovation—is the ideal fit for the sibling establishments. He’s especially excited about the Progress weekend brunch, which he thinks will appeal to farmer’s market shoppers.
“I feel like the Midwest and specifically the Ozarks is primed for our next evolution of cuisine,” Ernce said. “People are caring a lot more about their food. They’re much more cognizant where it’s coming from and how it’s being prepared. They’re open to trying new things and experiencing new flavors. Foodie culture in Springfield has definitely taken off.”
Opening: Winter 2018
Square Feet: 3,200
Hours of operation:
Monday–Thursday, 4 p.m.–midnight
Friday–Saturday, 4 p.m.–1 a.m.
Opening: Fall 2018
Square Feet: 4,800
Hours of operation:
Tuesday–Thursday, 5–10 p.m.
Friday–Saturday, 5–11 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday brunch, 9 a.m.–3 p.m.