Su Hill has already caused some diners to put the brakes on as they have tried the selections at one of Sikeston's newest restaurants, Joseph's Fine Steaks, 1617 E. Malone Ave.
Hill began by creating an atmosphere where customers can relax and enjoy themselves.
The J-Bar with walls in a deep, rich red color, leather chairs and the copper bar is flanked with small dining tables offering a cozy atmosphere for customers. The restaurant also includes a main dining room which can easily be sectioned off to fit large and small groups; just off the front door is a separate banquet room.
Joseph's uses artwork, glass partitions and spacing to create both large seating areas for groups or more intimate tables for diners. The design mixes modern with a classical look for a unique atmosphere.
Hill's background well-prepared her for the restaurant venture in Sikeston. She learned about food and restaurant management through years in the hotel business. Her introduction to Sikeston was through the Sikeston Country Club, where she served as manager in the late 1990s.
In 1998 she began her own restaurant offering Thai cuisine in Cape Girardeau, which was followed by Saffron's, a pan-Asian restaurant. When she learned of the building becoming available in Sikeston along Malone Avenue, she decided to try another venture.
"I always liked this area," she said. "I saw this as an opportunity to bring in something different, a different way of cooking. People do travel and they have a craving for tastes of real spices and all those things we use."
While wanting to be different, Hill emphasized the menu is designed around local tastes. The selections include pasta, pork, seafood and beef, particularly steaks
"We are proud of our steaks. We bring in the best quality beef we can find. Also we use seasonal vegetables from local growers," Hill said.
To keep the menu interesting to her customers and herself, Hill changes it every other month while keeping the focus on steaks and seasonal specialties. Also nightly specials are available.
The current menu offers appetizers such as escargot or a spinach and artichoke dip while the salads range from the classic Caesar to the J-salad which is a blend of shredded cabbage, carrots and tomato tossed with the sweet citrus vinaigrette and topped with ground peanuts.
The steaks can be a chateaubriand for two, a New York strip or ribeye or even a filet mignon while the other meats on the menu range from chicken to lamb to salmon.
This all can be topped off with desserts such as bread pudding.
She intends for her guests to plan for enjoyable evening. "Good food takes a little bit longer but we hope to offer it in a timely manner," said Hill. "That is why we concentrate on the dinner period when people can come in, enjoy their meal and don't have to rush."
Also an extensive list of wines, domestic and imported, matched with a long list of martinis, gives diners even more reason to linger.
Admitting she has taken on a big project, Hill said she has been asked if worried about her newest venture. "You have to love the business. Everything at times is scary but you have to start from yourself," she said. "To start up is easy but to keep it going is what I'm determined to do."
And she is doing it at her own pace. Hill acquired the building at the beginning of the year and opened in July. Currently, Joseph's opens for dinner at 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Business is "taking small steps," Hill noted with the latter part of the week and weekends more popular with the dinner crowd.
"We want to concentrate on doing things right for our customers the first time. We want people to have a good dining experience," she said.
In addition to the evening dining hours, Joseph's also offers catering and the facilities for luncheons and dinners. Hill said she has already talked with corporate groups about renting out the facilities - including the entire building for special events. Typically, however, the space is set up to easily provide for larger meetings or even small groups.
The lounge/bar/restaurant area seats 80 while the banquet room can provide for up to 140 and the dining area easily seats 125.
Hill noted that when catering events she works closely with clients to enable them to chose their menu. Also she wants to offer reserved-group luncheons and even is willing to do cooking demonstrations for small groups of eight or more who are interested in learning more about cuisine.
In addition to fine dining, Joseph's has live music. On Nov. 18 there will be a jazz group performing with special music planned in December. A New Year's Eve music and dining event is on the calendar, too.
Thus far, Hill said the comments from customers are favorable, many calling the restaurant a special place where they can show off the community to friends and clients.
"We are probably not an everyday restaurant," she said. "We are a unique restaurant. I hope the community will spend some time with us."