Down Home Charm
Life is slow and easy in the small town of Reeds Spring, and there’s more than good pizza to make it worth a weekend drive.
By Ettie Berneking | Photos courtesy Pop’s Dari Deli
With little more than 900 residents, the bucolic town of Reeds Spring is small enough you can miss it with a blink of the eye. But this cozy little spot is totally worth a quick pit stop on the way to Table Rock Lake.
Back in the day, traffic headed down to the lake had to crawl through town, and trailers weighed down with boats and kayaks filled the parking lot of Pop’s Dari Dell as lake-goers filled up on greasy cheeseburgers and soft serve ice cream cones. But once the bypass was completed along Highway 13, traffic was diverted from town.
Now, Pop’s parking lot is mostly filled with Reeds Spring residents who have been devouring Pop’s twist cones since they were kids. It’s likely most new visitors to Table Rock Lake have never made a midday stop at Pop’s or enjoyed a slice of pizza at Reeds Spring Pizza Company. But they should!
Holed up in a tree-lined valley where bright red dirt cliffs line the only road in and out of town, Reeds Spring offers small-town charm that’s hard to come by these days. Residents are warm and welcoming, and the cafes and diners downtown fill quickly with regulars and visitors alike. The downtown strip is lined with antique stores and cozy art galleries that often close shop at 3 in the afternoon so owners and residents can get out and the region.
Life here seems to slow down, which is exactly how those hot summer afternoons should be: lazy, relaxed and filled with good food.
Quotes from residents about why they love Reeds Spring:
How did the town get its start?
“This used to be a hub for railroad ties. They reported that 500,000 ties were shipped out in one day. Then it was cedar fence posts, and then the town was known for tomatoes. The plants liked the acidic soil here.”—Bill Bell, 48, city administrator
What do you think would surprise people to learn about Reeds Spring?
“We have some really great restaurants. There’s Reeds Spring Pizza Company, Suzie’s Mid-Town Café, Meme’s Tea Room and Papouli’s.”—Bill Bell, 48, city administrator
Where would you take someone who was new to town?
“The Rock House Center for the Arts. There are regular concerts there that sell out. It’s definitely a hub for local artists of all kinds.”—Bill Bell, 48, city administrator
How did you find out about Reeds Spring?
“My wife and I vacationed in the area for 17 years, and I liked to explore. We are from western Illinois from a rural area pretty similar to Reeds Spring.”—Bill Bell, 48, city administrator
What keeps you in Reeds Spring?
“My three daughters grew up here. It’s a great little town with some great eateries.”—Larry Ripperger, owner of Ace’s Antiques & Collectables Emporium
What are your three favorite dishes in town?
“The chicken fried steak dinner at Suzie’s Mid-Town Café, the calzones at Reeds Spring Pizza Company and the cheeseburgers at Pop’s Dairy Deli—that place is a staple in the area.”—Larry Ripperger, owner of Ace’s Antiques & Collectables Emporium
What’s a popular weekend hangout?
“The Take 5 Jazz Club. They do a great prime rib meal, and there’s karaoke on Saturday nights and live music on Friday nights.”—Larry Ripperger, owner of Ace’s Antiques & Collectables Emporium
What brought you and your husband to Reeds Spring?
“He actually found this building for sale and suggested I open my own restaurant. I had never even heard of Reeds Spring, but I love the small town. I’ve always lived in the country, so it’s great to be in town. The people have been so friendly and welcomed us right away.”—Suzie Dildine, co-owner Suzie’s Mid-Town Café
What was surprising to learn when you moved here?
“The local businesses really support each other. We bought this building from the owners of Reeds Spring Pizza Company, and now we both promote each other. We eat there and they eat here.”—Suzie Dildine, co-owner Suzie’s Mid-Town Café
Why did you decide to open the pizza shop?
“We wanted a way to help revive the city, and people usually visit new places for the food. So we researched for six months and opened Reeds Spring Pizza Company.”—Flavie Lear, owner Reeds Spring Pizza Company
Did you have any restaurant experience?
“I grew up in Paris working in the restaurant scene but had never worked with pizza.”—Flavie Lear, owner Reeds Spring Pizza Company
What do you think is the best part about Reeds Spring?
“There is much natural beauty in this area. Dogwood Canyon isn’t far away, and there are lots of parks and hikes all over the area.”—Flavie Lear, owner Reeds Spring Pizza Company
What keeps you in Reeds Spring?
“This is a really cool town with lots of really nice people.”—Flavie Lear, owner Reeds Spring Pizza Company
What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about the town?
“There are so many artists here, and as a result the town has lots of character. It’s amazing.”—Flavie Lear, owner Reeds Spring Pizza Company
Have you had anyone famous eat here?
“Don Johnson from Miami Vice came in once. He has family around here.”—Flavie Lear, owner Reeds Spring Pizza Company
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