Business landscape growing in Shell Knob
Multiple new businesses open, others change hands
A favorite tourist and retirement destination for scores of people looking for fun or relaxation by Table Rock Lake, Shell Knob has seen a boom in business recently, with stores and restaurants growing, changing hands or opening their doors to offer new dining and shopping options.
In the past few months, the Timberock Grill and Patak & Phillips Fine Arms have opened; Area 71 has expanded its kitchen, convenience store and RV park; Treasures Then and Now has changed hands and expanded; and Harter House, formerly Country Fresh Market, is undergoing renovations after being bought out.
“Things are bustling in our business community,” said Twilia Harrison, Shell Knob Chamber of Commerce Director. “New eateries, retail shops, resort and grocery owners are ready to greet our new and returning guests this year. The Chamber is excited about the improvements and additions that our businesses have made in the past few months.
“With many long-standing businesses, Shell Knob is a wonderful place to stay, play, shop and dine on the lake. We appreciate when you shop local; it provides employment opportunities and contributes to our area’s economic success.”
One of the newest eateries in town is the Timberock Grill, opening its doors in April and offering fine dining to local residents and tourists.
“We are kind of like a TGI Friday’s in that we do the candlelit dinners with drink specials and sandwiches at lunch,” said Michael Carman, owner. “We offer steaks, fine wine and a full breakfast, as well.”
Carman said he opened the business after looking at the economics of Shell Knob, given its residents and tourism appeal.
“People don’t really think Shell Knob has more residents than Cassville, but we have an average population in down of 6,200 counting tourists,” he said. “According to a study I did, the average money spent per day in retail in Shell Knob is about $90, and tourists spend about $115 a day.”
A graduate of Cassville High School in 1973, Carman retired and moved to Shell Knob about a year ago, first opening his furniture store, Michael Carman Gallery. The restaurant, he said, aims to offer different dining options for residents and visitors.
“We have people in from Wichita, [Kan.], who come to the grill wanting high-end wine, and we can cater to them,” he said. “We also have an outdoor area and are building a tiki bar with fire pits, and you can see the bridge and the lake from there.”
Carman said this is his first ownership venture in the food business, but he has previously developed restaurants in large cities like Kansas City.
Timberock Grill is located at the intersection of Highways 39 and YY in Shell Knob. Hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days per week, possibly staying open later during the summer.
Another expanding eatery is located just down Highway YY — Area 71.
Started up three years ago, Area 71 was mainly a convenience store, but it has now expanded its offerings with a full-time grill and a growing RV park.
“We tore the old store down and have been in the new one for one year as of Memorial Day,” said Doug Brown, owner. “Our concept was to expand services for local residents, vacationers and weekend guests. We now have a state-of-the-art kitchen with high-quality, fast service food. We do a full breakfast, lunch and dinner with daily specials.
“We never anticipated it would take off the way it has. We’ve increased out staff to about 20, with 12 of those full time, and we’ve taken the business from barely hitting six digits a year to being a seven-digit business. So, we’ve grown 10-fold, and that’s great for the local tax base.”
Brown said he and his family and friends used to come to the lake and be on the water until 9 p.m. or so, then want to go to a restaurant, but they were all closed.
“We’ve stumbled across a model we feel can be repeated with the convenience store and restaurant, so we’re looking to franchise,” he said. “It’s great to be able to get gas, plenty of convenience store items and a full meal all in one place.”
Also part of the business is a growing RV park, which Brown said will soon have 110 more sites with a pool and recreation center. He said he is in the process of renovating the water, sewer and electric systems, modernizing them for better capacity in hopes of attracting a larger RV crowd.
“The first 10 of the new 110 will open within the next 30 days,” he said. “We are also on top of one of Shell Knob’s famous hilltops, or knobs, that has a spectacular, panoramic view of the lake.”
Area 71 is located at 3147 Highway YY, and business hours are from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days per week.
“When we have fishing tournaments, we may stay open 24 hours if needed,” Brown said. “We appreciate the support from the community. The locals have been great to help keep us open year-round. There were some lean times in the winter, but we made it.
“We’re also giving back to the community with a free magic show, and we’ll continue in the summer with music and games for the kids, and we’re building a playground for the kids, as well. We want to keep investing back into the community.”
Brown also owns Table Rock Underground, which provides utility instillations for commercial and residential properties.
A business recently changing hands is the Treasures Then and Now flea market and antique shop. Cindy Hedgpeth bought the business in March after retiring from a 21-year career at Penmac.
“[My husband is retired, too, and we] remodeled our home for a year and decided it was time to do something new,” she said. “I had a booth at Treasures Then and Now, and it came up for sale and was a great opportunity for us.”
Hedgpeth said she has changed the store a bit, adding more booths and dealers.
“We have 25 booth and about 50 dealers in the 8,000-square-foot store,” she said. “We moved to Shell Knob about four years ago, and I’ve always wanted to own my own business. I want to boost the local economy and give shoppers some options, especially during tourist season. We have antiques and new items; a clothing boutique; and lots of furniture like tables, chairs, beds and sofas. You name it, we’ve got it.”
Treasures Then and Now is located in Bridgeway Plaza on Highway 39 and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday.
Another big change in the Highway 39 landscape is the Harter House, formerly Country Fresh Market, which is undergoing renovations. A full service supermarket, one of seven in Missouri, Harter House specializes in fresh cut steaks and sausage.
“We’ve been looking to expand for about five years now, and my kids are young and I live nine miles away, so we wanted to expand close to home,” said Brad Bettlach, owner. “We have a 30-foot service meat case with meat cutters working almost all our hours for specialty cut steaks. All our meat is choice angus beef, and we use an aging process, so it’s unbelievable how great it tastes compared to the competition.
“Our sausage products are also second to none. We make our own German brats, an Andouille sausage, and breakfast sausage, among others, and when you do them fresh, it’s unbelievable how good they are.”
Bettlach said the store is in the middle of a remodel, which started about eight weeks ago and costs about $200,000 on top of the purchase of the former Country Fresh Market.
“We are a full service supermarket with a hot deli, a bakery that makes fresh donuts every morning and various lunch specials,” he said. “We’ve had an unbelievably good response to the changes. The parking lot is almost always packed, and we have customers coming from places like Aurora, Cassville, Golden and Berryville, [Ark.].
“The store may be under construction, but sales are unbelievable, even with the store being torn up and some products being moved around during renovations. We hope for work to be completed in the next three weeks.”
Harter House is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays through the summer months. Bettlach said Harter House is a family-owned business, opening its first store in 1973, and plans are also in motion to open a store in Arkansas, which would be its eighth location.
Rounding out the new businesses in the area, and adding a new offering in Bridgeway Plaza, is the Patak & Phillips Fine Arms gun shop, which buys, sells and trades firearms.
Co-Owner Jerry Patak, who retired after 25 years in the U.S. Army and a stint at the gin library at Cabela’s, said he came to Shell Knob in retirement and wanted something to do with his time.
“I was getting a little bored, so I decided to open the gun store to keep me busy,” he said. “We opened in early April and offer handguns, rifles, shotguns, collectible firearms and ammunition. Business has been very good, and we’re doing a lot of handgun sales and conceal carry guns, because people are concerned about protecting themselves.”
Patak said the store is off to a great start, and within six months, he hopes there will be no flat place in the store without an item for sale.
“We’re trying to get everything anyone could possibly need,” he said.
Patak & Phillips Fine Arms is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Travis Phillips is co-owner with Patak.
For more information on these or other businesses in Shell Knob, people may reach Harrison at the Chamber at 417-858-3300.