Rural Missouri - Columbia Market Offers Fresh and Inviting Atmosphere

(From Rural Missouri NXT Book - July, 2018 - By Paul Newton) - Click Here to View the Article

It started as a ritual for Trish and Jim "Hoss" Koetting of Columbia. Every time the native St. Louisans would visit the Gateway City, a pit stop at Smokehouse Market in Chesterfield wasn't optional. "I would tell Hoss 'you have 10 minutes, $100 and we're out," Trish says. ''After about 15 times of that, we decided we should open a gourmet market in Columbia because there was nothing like it here."

The Koettings followed through and have been serving delicious barbecue, fresh sandwiches, prime rib and more since 2002 at Hoss's Market. The large kitchen is a hub of activity as daily specials are made for dine-in and takeout orders and catering obligations -- large and small -- are prepped to be picked up or taken to everything from Tiger tailgates to elegant weddings. Customers waiting for their food peruse the market where they find unique greeting cards, gourmet spices, oils and more. 

Fresh ingredients and quality products are the backbone of Hoss's Market. "The cast majority of all our dishes are made from scratch," Hoss says. " That way we can control every process that goes into making our food and we're confident that when the customer tastes it, that's the best product we can offer."

The Boone Electric Cooperative members were no novices to the restaurant industry when they opened the market. Hoss came to the University of Missouri as a student and in 1984 started working as a cook at the landmark Boone Tavern and quickly worked his way up to general manager. Trish unpacked her bags in Columbia two years later and started as a cocktail waitress. They stayed at the restaurant until Hoss's opened.

Through mutual associates, the couple met with Thom Sehnert, the owner of Smokehouse Market. "We knew the restaurant side well, it was the market side we needed help with," Trish says. "Thom was instrumental in teaching us how to do things on the gourmet side of things."

Thom tutored the two and took them to a specialty food trade show in New York where they were immersed in the business. "It was overwhelming," Trish explains. "We just started picking different items we liked and went from there."

The market is a trio of businesses under one roof. In addition to the fresh market and restaurant which seats 60, HOss's Market does some serious catering that gives Hoss more flexibility when creating the menu for the restaurant.  

The menu is fluid depending on the season or what's readily available. The hot sandwiches and rfesh salads are made to order and offered every day. Other menu staples include homemade soups, rotisserie chicken and USDA prime steaks.

The Cobb salad is the market's top seller at lunch. "If you would've told me that would be so when we opened, I would've said you are crazy," says HOss of the item that's been on the menu for 4 years.

Fresh greens are topped with rotisserie chicken that has spent time on the smoker, along with bacon, tomato, blue cheese, Vermont cheddar, egg slices, red onion, corn and your choice of homemade salad dressing. The balsamic vinaigrette and sweet onion dressings are the most popular for the salad served on a pie plate so customers have a "backboard" to enjoy the garden-fresh ingredients.

"It's filling and can be an entire meal," Trish says. "But you feel like you're eating a little healthier and it's fresh."

Sandwiches also are a big seller at lunch, and no sandwich is more popular than 'The Big Hoss'. A whole-grain baguette is topped with hickory-smoked brisket and turkey, Emmental Swiss, Vermont Cheddar, country bacon and tangy barbecue sauce before toasting in a flash-bake oven. Tomatoes are added and it's served with potato chip or made-from-scratch deli salads. "It's gooey, meaty deliciousness," Trish says.

If you're in the mood for a real quick bit to eat in the restaurant, check out the homemade soup offerings. Hoss makes all the soup and the seafood andouille gumbo in his specialty. Hoss tends to the stove, slowly coaxing a light roux to a dark, rich brown color which is the base of the New Orleans favorite. The gumbo includes whatever smoked seafood is available and fresh andouille sausage, shrimp, okra, onions and more.

"I'm a little biased," Trish says with a smile. "But we have the best seafood andouille gumbo in town, or maybe anywhere in Missouri."

About 80 percent of their lunch crowd eats in the restaurant with that number flipping to 20 percent at night, according to Trish. Most of their hungry customers walk into the market, order their to-go meal and are out the door -- especially on Friday nights.

The smoked prime rib steals the show on Fridays at Hoss's, one of the few places in the city that sells both raw and cooked USDA Prime steaks.

"You can have a prime rib here for a fraction of the price of a steakhouse," Trish says. "Most people don't make prime rib at home. Customers can come in, we carve it, cut it to order and serve it with garlic mashed potatoes and you can be out the door with a steak dinner in five minutes."

Daily dinner entrees are where Hoss gets creative. There are four dinner specials every night, with one being the same very week. In addition to the prime rib on Friday, Monday's mainstay is chicken-fried chicken, chicken enchiladas are featured on Tuesdays, meatloaf on Wednesday and pot roast on Thursday. Hoss adds a trio of other specials that range from something off the smoker out back to pasta to fresh seafood specials. Dinner and soup specials are posted on the market's website weekly.

The kitchen stays busy around the clock with catering orders as well. Fall Saturdays are especially busy. As a preferred caterer for Mizzou tailgates, they serve anywhere from 500 to 1,000 people very time the Tigers kick off on Farout Field. 

Whether you're looking for a fresh fast salad for lunch, a gourmet meal to give your oven a break or a feast for 100 of your best friends, Hoss's delicious food will keep you coming back for more.