Simple question – If you could bring back one restaurant from Springfield’s past, what would it be? — inspired nearly 400 comments on a subreddit in Springfield, Missouri. Here’s what people there said about the restaurants they miss most.

These restaurants were mentioned at the top of the comments, meaning they had the most votes as of September 15:

1. Graduate School, 2008-2021

Grad school was late restaurateur Danny Schlenk’s first venture. This little place was known for its made-from-scratch menu including burgers, sandwiches and salads. The restaurant closed in 2021 when the owner sold the building.

Known for: The Full Ride, a double bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions and cheddar cheese.

2. Trotter, 1976-1996

For two decades, Bill and Armilda “Mickey” Trotter ran Trotter’s Bar-BQ. While barbecue was the name, the restaurant was also known for its huge food bar and pie bakery. It eventually expanded statewide, with eight locations in Springfield, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Branson. The Trotters closed all eight locations when they retired in 1996.

Known for: Buffet and French silk pie.

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3. Mr. Gatti, 1980-1997

The Texas-based pizza chain came to Springfield in December 1980, according to archived News-Leader reports. In addition to serving pizza, local restaurants have also sponsored area youth sports teams.

Known for: Pizza.

4. Shady Inn, 1940-2001

Started as a “park-n-drive” on the corner of Sunshine and Campbell, The Shady Inn is probably best known as a cocktail lounge serving steaks and seafood. The restaurant ownership was sold in 2001 to Bass Pro Shops and Wonders of Wildlife, according to a 2015 News-Leader article.

Known for: Prime rib.

5. Café Anton, 1974-2020

Anton’s Cafe, a longtime Springfield landmark, opened on April Fool’s Day in 1974, the News-Leader reports. The restaurant closed when its owner, Anton Tasic, died after a second bout of lung cancer in 2020. Casper has since opened in the former location.

Known for: Classic dinner fare and 32 omelettes.

6. Zio’s Italian Kitchen, 1997-2020

Another Texas-based Italian chain, Zio’s, opened in Springfield in 1997. However, a kitchen fire in 2020 forced the restaurant’s closure.

Known for: Pasta and breadsticks.

7. Aunt Martha’s Pie House, 1959-2015

“Ozark Jubilee” artist Martha Haworth opened Aunt Martha’s Pancake House in 1959, according to previous News-Leader reporting. The place became a favorite among locals as well as among “Ozark Jubilee” performers, including Willie Nelson. Ruth Freeman bought it in 1964, and the Freeman family ran the restaurant until 2015.

Known for: “Top Secret” baked pancakes, tarts and omelettes.

more: Hungry for some history? Here are 4 of Springfield’s oldest restaurants

8. Soo Korean Restaurant, 2004-2021

News-Leader reporter Didi Tang described Soo’s Korean Restaurant as a “real Korean restaurant” after experiments at others produced mostly Chinese food. After 17 years in business, Soo’s closed in 2021 due to the same issues that faced many restaurants at the time: labor shortages, supply chain issues and the Delta COVID-19 variant, the News-Leader reports.

Known for: Traditional Korean dishes such as bulgogi and bibimbap.

9. Steak Out, 1993-2015

This Alabama-based franchise specializes in carryout and delivery of steaks and grilled chicken, the News-Leader reports since opening the Springfield location.

Known for: Steaks, rib tips, baked potatoes.

10. Big Fat Burritos, 1999-2018

Known for its fresh ingredients, Big Fat Burritos offers a different kind of fast food to the area, as owner Jason Childress can make a burrito in a minute, according to previous News-Leader reports. The restaurant closed in 2018 after achieving its “goal of feeding 600,000 people,” according to a Facebook post.

Known for: Lime and chile chicken burrito.

Susan Szoch is a health and public policy reporter for the Springfield News-Leader. Follow her on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @szuchsm. Story idea? Email her at

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