With a background in the food and service industry, B.J. Lowrance believes a classy music venue deserves quality food and drinks to match. So when he started drafting up plans for The Royal, a small 41-guest concert venue with a 20-guest patio, he made menu development a top priority. Now, the music hall is set to soft-open at the intersection of Cherry and Pickwick in late June.
Lowrance, who previously worked at Queen City Wine Dive while anticipating The Royal's opening, has been collaborating with Josh Widner and Rogan Howitt (also a Feast columnist) of Good Spirits & Co. on the bar program. They're starting off with an upscale dive menu featuring canned wine, domestic beer, craft beer and batch bottled cocktails.
The food menu will feature finger foods like glazed mixed nuts with rosemary and bitters and warm olives inspired by an offering at a winery in Napa Valley. "I've been calling the food glorified bar food," Lowrance says. "I had a couple of goals when coming up with the menu. I wanted to choose food we could prepare with no hood vent and serve with no silverware."
The Royal's future location sits within eye-shot of Cherry Picker Package x Fare's patio, so Lowrance and his girlfriend would often discuss the building's potential on warm summer nights over drinks. As a previous member of Springfield-based band Izabel Crane, formerly known as Bella Donna, he saw the void for a small act venue with elevated food and drink offerings.
"Being a musician and a fan of music, I really like house concerts," he says. "Going to house shows has always been my favorite experience. Having a small performance area and very few people in the audience allows you to connect better. It feels more natural than being in a big auditorium with a thousand people and listening to the band."
Before COVID-19 hit, Lowrance's had planned to host live music acts every weekend with a cover charge, but he has decided to hold off on that aspect of his business temporarily. "I want to make sure the experience is worthwhile for everyone," he says. "I want guests to be comfortable and safe, and I want to make sure musicians will benefit too. Although small shows are what I want to host, I place a high value on artistry and want the musicians to earn what they deserve."
So for now, he plans on welcoming guests for cocktails and small plates sans live music and cover charge come late June.
The Royal, 1427 E. Cherry, Suite B, Springfield, Missouri, 417.351.3029, theroyalmusichall.com