While the mill at Finley Farms looks completed on the outside, there are still many behind-the-scenes projects yet to come.

I’ve awaited the arrival of The Garrison, a fine dining social affair tucked away beneath The Ozark Mill for months now, and I finally got a peek inside. Here’s what happened.

(Feel free to watch a video of my experience here)

The Garrison

The Garrison Bar at Finley FarmsPhoto courtesy of Finley Farms

If you went into The Ozark Mill right now, you wouldn’t know a whole new space exists below. Before, guests would meander through the entrance and make their way straight back to the hostess stand to be seated at the Ozark Mill Restaurant. 

Now, a previously roped-off staircase to the right has been reopened, and I made my descent.

When first hearing about the restaurant and bar, it was described to have a speakeasy sort of feel. Seeing the entrance for the first time, the description was right on the money. Originally from the mill, a large molasses tanker was repurposed as the new front entrance. After walking through the steel-lined walls of the tanker, the room opens up to reveal The Garrison.

The candlelit hideout features heirlooms from Riverside Inn and much of Howard Garrison’s original artwork. A cozy patio space lined with fire pits offers additional seating and unmatched views of the Finley River, mill pond dam and the historic Riverside Bridge. For a more intimate experience, large dinner parties can reserve The Pantry, a private dining room next to The Garrison’s kitchen. The unique, European-inspired dining experience allows guests to be part of the back-of-house hustle and bustle while providing a comfortable experience. 

Every aspect of the space has been thought out from the wall decor to the chairs, to even the bathrooms. Guests will be surprised to enter the bathrooms to hear an actual interview with Garrison himself.

The History

The Garrison Room at Finley Farms

Original artwork by Howard Garrison on display at The Garrison Room, photo courtesy of Finley Farms

The space isn’t called The Garrison for nothing. Howard Garrison was the owner of Ozark’s famed Riverside Inn restaurant 1.5 miles upstream from The Ozark Mill on the Finley River. He was also a talented artist and, at times, a rebel outlaw. During Prohibition, police arrested Howard more than once for allowing his patrons to gamble and drink. During his time in prison, Garrison took up painting, and many of his works of art line the walls of The Garrison.

Underneath Howard’s gruff exterior was a soft heart and passion for hospitality. During the Supper Club Era, countless parties took place on the sprawling patio and carried late into the night. The community cherished the Riverside Inn as a second home—even volunteering to clean when the river repeatedly flooded its quarters.

Howard passed away in 1974, but his restaurant remained open until 2009. Today, The Garrison pays homage to Howard Garrison and the Riverside Inn.

The Menu

The Garrison MenuPhoto courtesy of Finley Farms

Designed for sharing, The Garrison’s menu features fine fare that draws inspiration from Ozarks traditions and Riverside Inn’s offerings. While much of the restaurant’s menu was French-forward, many in the community remember Riverside Inn for its fried chicken. 

“We wanted to honor Riverside Inn by putting our spin on the classic Ozarks dish,” said Executive Chef Kevin Korman. 

Before creating a new representation of the beloved recipe, Korman consulted with the former owner of the Riverside Inn, Eric Engel. Additionally, the bill of fare showcases 17 types of organically-grown produce sourced from the property’s farm. Those looking to imbibe can choose from eight high-brow cocktails inspired by The Mill’s intricate machinery.

What Korman is most excited about guests trying is the mini pot roast. “I wanted something that would kind of tie into the meat and potatoes but elevated, and I wanted to make sure we still had a bit of that storytelling piece with Missouri being known for cattle,” Korman said.

What makes this mini pot roast different is that it’s made of beef cheek. “I’ve always been a fan of taking something that people may be unfamiliar with or scared to eat,” said Korman. “We braise it, really slow, and we do it overnight for about 12 hours so it’s really tender.”

Korman describes having his ‘aha’ moment after tasting the finished product for the first time and hopes guests will experience something similar when they have their first bite.

Related Post: Experience Finley Farms in Ozark, Missouri

The Dinner

The Rosemary Pound Cake At The GarrisonThe rosemary pound cake at The Garrison, photo courtesy of Finley Farms

While the mini pot roast wasn’t on the menu to try the night I was there with my husband, Gabe, our table was blessed with samples of roasted sweet potatoes, sea scallops, and the soon-to-be-famous Riverside Fried Chicken.

Tasting each thing, there were flavors I couldn’t identify. I had tasted sweet potatoes before, and had had my daily dose of fried chicken, but there was a new spin on each thing. The breading wasn’t too overpowering and the potatoes were roasted and topped with a smoked hickory syrup créme fraîce - a great twist on a typical southern dish.

Then came the cocktails. No detail is too little to overlook. I knew The Garrison had thought of everything when my husband ordered the signature Old Fashioned, and the ice cube came branded with the Finley Farms logo.

The crown jewel of it all was the dessert: brown butter griddled rosemary pound cake with lemon chamomile ice cream. I’ve had cake and ice cream before, but not a pairing this sweet. I would dine at the Garrison again just to have that cake.


The Garrison Room at Finley FarmsPhoto courtesy of Finley Farms

The Ozark Mill will open to the public July 1. Reservations are required to experience The Garrison and will be made available beginning at 10 a.m. on June 17. For reservations and restaurant hours, visit finleyfarmsmo.com/thegarrison.


Watch a video of my experience down below.

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