Downtown Joplin has a new eatery that just opened this month, but by a Joplin-known co-owner. Suzanne Miller—previous owner of Eagle Drive-In, Instant Karma, and others—in partnership with Brian Cole officially opened Beast & Barrel Wednesday, February 10.
Beast & Barrel offers traditional cuisine “with a twist,” according to Miller, and they recently received their liquor license. Miller and Cole have over 30 years of experience in the restaurant business each. Opening Beast & Barrel, Miller said, was a way for her to have a new start, as she said she “wanted something different.”
“I think we really just wanted to be downtown and be part of the downtown scene, just part of the community down here,” Miller said. “… We’ve worked at several places in town and owned a few restaurants in town, so this is just a new venture for us really.”
Before opening Beast & Barrel, Miller owned four Joplin restaurants, including: Eagle Drive-In, open nine years and recently closed in December 2020; Instant Karma, open 10 years and closed in June 2020 due to the pandemic; Midtown Pizza Company; and Jasper’s Juicery. Miller said she and Cole have been friends for 25 years, having worked together at Club 609 in their twenties.
“… So, we’d just known each other for a long time, been good friends,” Miller said. “And yeah, we just both had the opportunity, and the opportunity came up and we were like, ‘yeah, let’s do this down here.’ And we got this great space, so lucky to get this space.”
Since closing the Eagle Drive-In nearly two months ago, Miller said she wanted to keep a few things from the Eagle in order to “keep it a bit familiar” at their new restaurant. Such as keeping the Eagle sauce and making the new Beast burger similar to the Eagle burger but with a different blend of meats.
“Really, I hope to bring more business downtown,” Miller said. “I’ve always felt that none of us are in competition down here, we are all supportive of each other when something new opens because it really only helps bring traffic downtown, you know. I know some people at dinner here last night and after they left here they went to Blackthorn to have some drinks. I mean, it’s just totally a cycle and it works out really well for everyone and I talked to the other downtown business owners and they feel the same way … they’re just happy something new is downtown.”
When working together to pick he name for their new restaurant, Miller and Cole found themselves thinking to the current pandemic.
“Well, we did talk about how sasquatch are social distancing creatures,” Miller said.
They also connected the name back to aspects of Miller’s previous restaurant, the Eagle Drive-In.
“We were kind of joking around one day, you know, thinking about what we would name this, and the Eagle had a lot of elk, and lamb, and bison, and stuff like that—you know, beasty, meaty things,” Cole said. “And so, we talked about that bouncing ideas off each other in the current times, talking about how the sasquatch was the king of social distancing, you know. …”
For the remainder of the name, Cole said they both come from a “pretty strong beer background.”
“And then I think the barrel we just, the barrel is like wine, whiskey, you know,” Miller said.
With the idea of the pandemic in mind, Miller wanted to ensure that the public know the Beast & Barrel is taking every precaution to keep their customers safe.
“Another thing I would like to mention, going along with the whole sasquatch thing and the pandemic and whatever, we don’t have tons of tables in here because we are trying to be responsible and make people feel safe, make sure they know that there’s six feet between each table,” Miller said. “And I know that’s not the mandate, I know that we don’t have to do that—and believe me we want to put more tables in here and squish people in, but at this time we just really are trying to be safe about it and make sure all the staff wears masks. We want people to feel like this is a place that they don’t have to worry about coming to, like they’re not going to be forced to sit right next to another family or something. We want people to know that they will have their own space.”
Even with having just opened, Beast & Barrel has plans for expansion in the future, as they have an additional larger space connected to their current space. Cole and Miller explained that they hope to host events down the road, such as private parties, special dinners, brunches, and more. The space also has a stage that the two plan to incorporate into future larger events.
“We have a whole other side and we’re going to try to expand over there over time, so we’ll have even larger space,” Cole said. “We’ll do some, we’re talking about maybe doing some maybe events over there. …”
With their official opening now a couple weeks passed, Miller said both the pandemic and the recent winter weather has impacted their business, but she said she’s fine with a slow start.
“… And really, we want a kind of slow start,” Miller said. “You know, just want to get the food perfected, make sure everything was coming out right, so I’m like totally fine with it being slow right now. But it’s been great, I mean we were busy last night, we were busy Saturday. …”
Beast & Barrel’s hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and they are located at 530 S. Main St. in Joplin. They are open for both dine-in and pick-up. In describing their new restaurant, Miller said she would call it warm, fun, and family-friendly.
“… I want people to think it’s a fun place, a comfortable, fun place,” Miller said. “I’d like to encourage people to support local.”