Burgers and pizza are staples of a casual night out. Pair those with music and a day on the Lake, and it’s an atmosphere the whole family can enjoy.
Whether it’s going out to dinner or meeting up for a big breakfast, there are several new, locally owned restaurants this year at the Lake. Despite Coronavirus shutdowns earlier this year, these local places have opened this year at the Lake:
There’s nothing small about Big Kahuna’s Gas n’ Grill, at Buck Creek Marina on Lake of the Ozarks. The site of the original Big Thunder Marine on the 8 Mile Marker, Big Kahuna’s—aka “BK Gas ’n Grill”—is reviving this iconic spot, with a marina, lodging, tasty food and flavorful drinks.
BK Gas & Grill's Pork Tenderloin Sandwich is the sandwich we never knew we couldn't live without. It’s difficult to overstate this sandwich’s excellence. It’s huge: the thinly-breaded, tender-and-juicy, flavorful pork tenderloin is piled on a soft, warm, buttery Brioche bun that practically melts in your mouth. And if you're looking for the ultimate "vacation drink," it might just be BK’s yummy Blue Hawaiian. This signature drink is a bucket drink composed of six shots. It’s made with Malibu Rum, Blue Curaçao, lemonade, pineapple juice, and Piña Colada mix. Not too sweet, the refreshing coconutty-taste will make you feel like you’re in a tropical paradise – and you get to keep the bucket!
4196 Osage Beach Parkway, Osage Beach
This family-run restaurant serves a healthy size of home-cooked foods like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, chicken and dumplings, and French toast. It is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Osage Beach Parkway. The Bonnie Café originated in Bonnie, Illinois, in the 1950s and the Hubbard family took over in 2012. Running six restaurants in total, they decided to start at the Lake because they love the area and have been visiting for years. Officially open since May 28, they’ve worked with the health department to ensure a sanitized dine-in area and social distance seating.
“We’re just a family-owned restaurant who is doing our best to make it out at the Lake,” said Brittany O’Dell (Hubbard), who helps run the Lake location with her mom and brother.
1097 Bagnell Dam Blvd - Lake Ozark (right next to Bagnell Dam)
Located on Bagnell Dam Blvd, this joint opened June 12, specializes in pizza by the slice and offers salads and sandwiches. The pizza is as good as the restaurant name promises, with oh-so-flaky crust you'll not even be tempted to leave on the plate.
Derrick Deitrick and his father started the restaurant because they wanted to create a family-oriented atmosphere that also allowed Derrick to spend more time with his new baby, he said. Pandemic shutdowns allowed Derrick to build the place and add an arcade-room for kids, but it was difficult to hire staff at first. He grew up at the Lake and has worked at resorts his whole life, so Dam Good Slice is Derrick’s opportunity to show what he can do.
29475 Mill Creek Marina Rd - Gravois Mills
Opening May 8, this sister restaurant of Coconuts Caribbean Beach Bar & Grill is located on Mill Creek Marina Road. Michelle and Troy Cokley, the managers and partners, have been very busy at their first restaurant.
They offer shareables liked loaded fries, certified Angus beef burgers and "loaded" (boozy) milkshakes. Initially they thought they would renovate the Old Cabana Joe’s location, but they opted instead to tear it down and start from scratch. They moved to the Lake four years ago and created Lake Burger in an almost spur-of-the-moment decision.
66 North Shore Drive - Lake Ozark
Officially opening May 18 on North Shore Drive, Off the Cliff offers drinks, burgers, sandwiches, pizza and a choice of soup, salad or fries. Penny Huston used to own Easy Street Dessert & Wine Bar, and was ready to leave when she closed in 2019 until the opportunity arose to start another business, Penny said. Off the Cliff is based on two friends who became partners, which influenced the Thelma and Louise sentiment around the restaurant. They had to cancel some live music events earlier in the season because of COVID-19, but Off the Cliff will be featuring Machine Gun Symphony on Saturday, Aug. 15.
1371 Bagnell Dam Blvd - Lake Ozark
The Frese family have opened a location at the Lake on Bagnell Dam Blvd, which has been their favorite place to vacation for the past eight years. They are originally from Quincy, Illinois, and have owned Pops Pizzeria for five years. It’s known for Chicago-style pizza, homemade buffalo sauce and hot wings. Opening up during Coronavirus was challenging, but they think the area is supportive.
“We love it here and we hope to be able to offer our amazing pizza to the visitors and community for a long time.”
1345 Bagnell Dam Blvd - Lake Ozark
The little burger-and-shakes-and-beers spot next to Tucker's Shuckers (and owned by Tucker's namesake, local restauranteur George Tucker) is a perfect stop-in for a bite on the Strip. Next to the burger-and-shake shack is the Malted Monkey's main attraction and the newest brightest spot on the Strip: the ropes course. It's a great place for parents to grab food or drink while the kids explore for as long as they want in the giant ropes course... or parents can hop in a harness and get to climbing, too! See more about The Malted Monkey, below...
This is a regional franchise of a national chain, so while they aren't a local "mom and pop" place, First Watch has already fit right into the Lake dining scene since they opened in June. Open for breakfast and lunch only, First Watch's clean-and-bright decor is a welcome way to start the day or grab lunch with friends or a client. Check out LakeExpo's Signature Series feature on First Watch, below...
The most buzzed-about new restaurant at the Lake this year is undoubtedly First Watch. And f…
First Watch’s extensive breakfast and lunch menu offers something for every palate, and in a…