A couple with around 20 years of combined experience in the food service industry has embarked on their first restaurant ownership venture.
Husband-and-wife owners Mike and Marlayna Newman opened Smoked 417 LLC on Nov. 15 at 603 S. Kimbrough Ave. Chicken is the primary menu focus for the eatery, which fills 1,500 square feet in a building formerly occupied by Black Market Smokehouse LLC, which shuttered earlier this year.
Marlayna Newman said while Black Market was a barbecue restaurant, Smoked 417 is not.
“We’re a chicken joint,” she said. “We specialize in chicken that we make and have smoked ingredients. None of our meat is smoked; it’s all hand-battered and fried. Ingredients such as onions, salt, bacon, corn, pecans and things like that are smoked.”
Newman said her husband had long desired to open his own restaurant but was waiting for enough finances and the right opportunity to come along.
“We had done a little bit of looking,” she said, noting the Kimbrough Avenue location was attractive for its proximity to downtown and Missouri State University. “Everything just kind of fell into our laps at that point. It had a lot of stuff in there as a restaurant already.”
She estimated startup costs were roughly $10,000, adding the couple signed a one-year lease for an undisclosed rate with Marilyn Starnes-Biggs. Newman said the lease has an option to renew for three years.
Newman said both she and her husband have each worked around 10 years in restaurants. She previously was employed in Bolivar, Ironton and Harrisburg, Arkansas, as a business manager with Sonic, while her husband’s experience includes working as a chef at Springfield Brewing Co.
She exited Sonic around six years ago and is currently on maternity leave from her role as a branch manager in Springfield for Lend Nation LLC. Newman said she expects to continue that position for at least the short term while also working at Smoked 417. The Newmans are the restaurant’s lone employees.
Smoked 417’s menu features chicken sandwiches, wings, salads and sides, such as sweet potato chips and corn nuggets. The chicken wings have 11 sauce options, including Three Kings, which Newman said is an option so hot they require customers to sign a waiver before eating. Sandwich and entree prices range $4-$8, with options to upgrade to combo meals for $3-$5 more, according to its menu.
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