Big Sky Café has been a staple of Webster Groves, Missouri, since 1992. From shifting away from a more upscale atmosphere to embracing takeout orders during the pandemic, change and adaptation while maintaining the comfort food menu customers love has been key to its longevity.
Initially opened by Tim Mallet, Big Sky’s longtime chef Dominic Weiss took over the joint in 2022. Weiss started as a busser at the café when it first opened and went on to work in various local restaurants until about 12 years ago, when he came back to where his career all began. Mallet was an influential mentor for Weiss.
“I referenced the one person that I really knew would steer me the right way,” Weiss says.
Mallet offered him a temporary position at the café, which ended up turning into more than a decade of working in the kitchen.
In an industry where margins are thin and competition is fierce, the café’s three-decade tenure is certainly an achievement. Weiss, however, doesn’t believe there’s a mystery when it comes to running a restaurant.
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“There’s no big secret formula beyond staying in tune with the people that are coming in the door,” he says. “We have since the beginning and continue to listen to our guests and what they’re looking for and try to adapt accordingly.”
Adaptation is truly at the heart of the restaurant’s operation. Around half of its menu changes regularly to reflect seasonal and local ingredients. A current popular special is the Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with fried capers, basil-infused olive oil and blueberry gastrique. Another seasonal dish is the Toasted Risotto Cake and Beech Mushrooms with Marcoot heritage cheese, heirloom tomato, purple asparagus and roasted garlic and fresh herb butter sauce.
The other half of the menu includes elevated homestyle comfort foods. The red wine and rosemary braised pot roast has been a staple for years.
“I think that there would be some serious trouble and revolt if I ever tried to remove that from the menu,” Weiss says.
Served with rosemary carrots, onions and celery and smoked Gouda polenta, there’s a reason customers order this hearty dish again and again. Staple small plates include dishes such as shaved Brussels sprouts and greens salad and creamy tomato soup.
The café’s focus on seasonality goes hand in hand with its emphasis on sustainability. Nearly 100% of its meat and eggs are locally sourced and naturally raised. It also follows Monterey Bay’s sustainable seafood guidelines and sources produce from local suppliers such as Farmstead Foods and Eat Here St. Louis.
Even after years at Big Sky, Weiss still finds ways to stay current and interesting. He aims to continue the legacy of Tim Mallet and stick to producing elevated comfort food.
“The purpose is to stay fresh and continue to provide a quality product and value,” he says. “We’re very thankful for all the support that we’ve had until now. And we look forward to continuing to make people happy.”
Big Sky Café, 47 S. Old Orchard, Webster Groves, Missouri, 314.962.5757, bigskycafe.net