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Rural Missouri Magazine

Seasons on the Square
Small-town dining with big-city taste

by Jarrett Medlin
Owner and chef Sheryl Warren runs Seasons on the Square in Gallatin. Although the restaurant is in a town of only 1,800 citizens, it provides a surprisingly elegant atmosphere and delicious food.

The square in Gallatin is like most small-town squares. A three-story courthouse overlooks an old drug store, a clothing store and an antiques shop that’s housed in a building older than most of its contents. Many of the square’s buildings sit dusty and vacant, and there is little sign of any modern-day improvements. The one exception is a curious, two-story building painted a bold shade of yellow with one simple word, “Seasons,” above the door.

From outside, it’s difficult to see what lies within. Black fabric covers the large windows facing Main Street, and a greeter’s station is all that is visible through the glass in the front door. A small chalkboard standing on the step outside offers one of the few clues about the business. In neat, cursive handwriting, it reads: “Welcome to Seasons, Weekend Special, Roasted Prime Rib.” Still, it is hard to tell much from the sidewalk.

Not until you step through the front door, onto the wooden floor and into the air-conditioned waiting area, do you really get a glimpse of Seasons on the Square.

The room is stunning, nothing like you’d expect. A piano sits in one corner of the room and a fireplace in another. Tasteful black and white photos of local nature scenes hang from the room’s pale yellow walls. Fine silver and dinner plates rest on crisp white tablecloths. In the center of the room, a vase of white gladiolas sits on a ceramic-top island. Crooner Michael Bublé sings a sizzling rendition of “Fever” from speakers somewhere overhead, next to the room’s brick-red ceiling.

The mouth-watering aroma of steak cooking on a grill floats from the restaurant’s small kitchen in the back. There, a friendly woman with auburn hair, brown eyes and an ever-present smile stands in her white apron, stirring mashed potatoes and watching the grill.

“People think that since we’re in the middle of nowhere, we can’t do anything like this,” says Sheryl Warren, the 38-year-old music teacher and owner of Seasons, as she motions toward the dining area. “It’s still a shocker to me. I still walk in and think, ‘Wow, I can’t believe it.’”

Indeed, it’s hard to believe what was once an appliance store in a century-old building has been transformed into an elegant restaurant that you would expect to see in downtown Kansas City or St. Louis. Sheryl and co-owner Julie Critten, another teacher from Gallatin, began renovating the building in May 2000. They kept the wooden floors, but knocked down walls, added a fireplace and repainted everything.

“It just kept growing as we were working,” Sheryl explains.

After a year of renovations, Seasons on the Square opened to the public in the spring of ‘01.

Before that time, Sheryl had no experience running a restaurant. She’d worked as a server at Willows Restaurant in nearby Chillicothe and cooked biscuits at a Hardee’s while earning her music education degree at Northwest Missouri State University. Following graduation, the Dawn native began teaching music and choir at Gallatin in 1991. At some point, she began catering out of her kitchen when another teacher asked her to cook for a reception.

Eventually, her catering business grew to the point that she was sometimes cooking for as many as 200 people. At last, she decided to open a restaurant on the Gallatin square.

Seasons on the Square

Specialties: Vary seasonally; mesquite flank; filet of beef; artichoke and cheese dip. Delicious desserts include the surprise chocolate soufflé.

Price: Entrees cost $12 to $24.
Sandwiches are $8.

Hours: Friday from 6-9 p.m., Saturday from 5-9 p.m;
private parties during the week. Open year-round. Reservations recommended for groups of six or more. Non-smoking. Seats 64.

Payment: Credit cards, checks and cash accepted.

Directions: Take Highway 6 east off Interstate 35, north of Kansas City. Go south on Highway 13. The highway turns into Main Street. Seasons is on the Gallatin square at 105 N. Main.

Contact: (660) 663-4264

Now, Sheryl can be found cooking in the back of Seasons every Friday and Saturday night. For seven hours each week, the restaurant comes alive with servers dressed in black and white, and regulars from as far as Kansas City and St. Louis.

“Our prices aren’t café prices, so for people to come in every weekend says a lot,” says Sheryl.

Dinner typically costs about $25 per person, but the big-city prices are well worth it. Before their meal, many customers start by munching on artichoke and cheese dip while sipping wine. For the main course, the mesquite flank, Sheryl’s favorite, is cooked to perfection and the garlic smashed potatoes are prepared likewise. And no Seasons experience is complete without trying the surprise chocolate soufflé for dessert.

Sheryl says she gets her recipes from all over — the Food Network, other restaurants, magazines, friends and family. She’s constantly looking for ideas and trying new recipes. Each season, she changes the restaurant’s menu by adding “seasonal specialties,” the inspiration for the restaurant’s name.

Sheryl still teaches full-time, so she’s unable to expand the restaurant as much as she would like. Still, she seems perfectly content with her current situation. Many of her former students now work at the restaurant, and she constantly jokes with them while cooking.

“I love teaching and cooking,” she says, “And I just think this is the best of both worlds.”

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