(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Olin Cox has been running a bed & breakfast, Whiskey Mansion for 12 years. Now he’s adding an eatery to his repertoire, the Belle Époque Cafe.
The cafe opened last week.
“We wanted a small intimate space that would showcase farm-to-market, local foods in St. Joseph,” Cox said.
The restaurant has been in the works since 2004 when he bought the Ryan Block building.
“We first started with lofts and so we worked our way down.”
The red-brick building was built in 1889. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.
Then he fixed up the space next door to the cafe for an organic grocery store, Friedrich’s Market.
“We’ve restored the building,” Cox said. “We’ve put the copper dome back on the building, which is really an iconic landmark.”
It’s not just a cafe, it’s part of bigger plan for downtown. A plan to restore a district back to its hay-day.
“Frederick Avenue is the gateway to the downtown and it’s an exciting time to be on the street,” Cox said.
Downtown St. Joseph has added restaurants, coffee shops, lofts and a new market in recent years.
“We feel lucky and fortunate that we are a part of that movement,” he said.
The eatery fashions history into something new.
Cox bought pews from a church in Iowa and converted them to cafe benches and a bar. He installed a ceiling of hand-pressed tin from Nevada, Missouri.
“I tried to find things that were local but had an old world feel.”
Over the years, he collected lights and memorabilia from Europe. Cox uses those pieces to decorate the 1920s Parisian-style restaurant.
“The concept, it’s the era of cafes,” he said. “It’s the time of artists who would hang out in Cafe’s, the writers who were there.”
Cox said customers can expect a menu of fresh, locally sourced food, beer, wine, and unique desserts.
The Belle Époque Cafe is located on Frederick Avenue and it is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 5:00- 11:00 p.m.