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Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Niche Filled: The Bruncheonette!

With the current food movement in Joplin, focusing on eclectic food, from locally sourced products, there is a niche that had not been filled: breakfast and brunch. That void has been filled in a fantastic way! 

Sean and Chasity Flanagan have opened one of the newest, and most unique eateries in Joplin, Missouri. From the first flick of the Open sign on October 23, 2013, The Bruncheonette has served a creative and exciting interpretation of the brunch menu. Their regular and daily features have included such things as a truffle Benedict, Monte Cristo with foie gras and plum compote, Champagne Sabayon, syrups made with local beers, and even a classic Mornay sauce with a oldies beer twist with Hamm's. Everyday menu staples are unique as well, with such dishes as Poutine, Nutella Crepes, carrot fries, an assortment of delicious Benedicts (Bennies), and their famous biscuits and gravy, with a chorizo and bacon gravy. And with all that, you can even get a brunch cocktail or a local beer! The Flanagans and staff source a vast array of local produce, meat, and other products from the Webb City Farmers Market. You can often spot Sean on a Tuesday evening or Friday morning at the Market, as he slips away from the kitchen long enough to gather his bounty for the daily specials. It's obvious to see why The Bruncheonette has become one of the hottest spots in Joplin!

Some of The Bruncheonette's Daily Features, including a couple of my favorites:
Truffle Benedict and Foie Gras Monte Cristo with Plum Compote.

With every new restaurant, there is a long story of how it came into being. Let's look back at Sean and Chastity's journey to opening The Bruncheonette. 

Both Flanagans come from the area, Sean growing up in Columbus, Kansas and Joplin with Chastity growing up in Riverton, Kansas and Joplin. The summer after Sean graduated high school, he found himself working pantry in an upscale restaurant in Yellowstone. This was Sean's first real restaurant experience, and still holds fond memories for him. 

Sean's first more permanent position was obtained through his best friend since 8th grade, Schuyler Winn. Schuyler's father owned the very unique Undercliff Bar & Grill in Tipton Ford, Missouri. Sean joined the kitchen crew as "Dish Dog", washing dishes by hand for hours on end bent over a three bin sink. Eventually Sean worked his way up to Kitchen Manager, but burdened with home ownership, needed more money, and quickly. He had to find a better paying job. While Sean worked at Undercliff, he had gained a couple of very vital things: a foundation of kitchen knowledge and experience, and he had worked with and met Chastity. 

Chastity's restaurant tenure, in addition to The Undercliff, includes manager at Woody's Woodfired Pizza, and stints at Instant Karma, Eagle Drive In, and Mohaska Farmhouse. 

Sean found his better job when he joined his parents Mike and Linda, known as the Flanagan Group Realtors, a couple of Joplin's strongest and most successful real estate professionals. Sean found that he was damn good at selling real estate, and continued making great money for five years. 

After a trip to Yellowstone in 2006, Sean and Chastity decided to move there for a new experience before settling down and starting a family. They took off for Idaho with no jobs, and expected that Sean could easily find a real estate sales position. They ended up living near a tiny cafe in Victor, Idaho. In fact, the cafe was approximately half the size of The Bruncheonette. It was the first time Sean had tried Eggs Benedict. Enamored with the small cafe, Sean began hounding the chef for a job. Eventually, he was hired by Chef Matty Lake. Matty Lake spent most of his entire life in Hawaii and California, and was an incredible cook and human being. He possessed the type of personality that just made people gravitate to him. Sean and Matty became great friends. 

When Chef Matty was offered a Sous Chef position at The Southfork Lodge resort owned by part of the Rockefeller family in Swan Valley, Idaho, he brought Sean along. It would prove to be his first extensive fine dining experience and first experience with true French technique in the kitchen. When Matty excelled to Chef, he promoted Sean up along with him to Sous Chef. 

In August 2007, Sean and Chastity welcomed their first baby girl, Marley Kai, into the world, and headed back to Joplin in October with new recipes and a plethora of inspiration. That little cafe and the friendship and experience with Chef Matty would play an enormous role in Sean's career. Sean remained close friends with him, and even feature some of his dishes on The Bruncheonette menu, such as the B.A. Baracus, and Island Stylee. Sadly, Matty Lake passed away from a sudden heart attack this summer. 

Upon the Flanagans' arrival back to the Four States area, Sean worked the 2007-2008 Holiday Season at Wilder's Steak House. Then, moved on to Crabby's Seafood Bar & Grill. In just six months, he worked from Sous Chef up to Chef. After two years at Crabby's, Sean began to burn out. Jason Miller, a fellow Crabby's/Chatters alum, hooked Sean up with a stint at Instant Karma.

Then, Sean accepted a position under Chef Anthony Warrior at Red Oak Steakhouse in Downstream Casino. Working as a Cook 2, Sean made a calculated move in order to gain more experience and knowledge. He had missed out on a lot of the French based technique that he missed out on, by not going through culinary school. He quit the position and basically in turn, demoted himself to a line cook, a position that many people try to work themselves up from. The Red Oak experience proved to be the hardest and most rewarding job he had worked.

With the demotion, Sean became flat broke, and after eight months, he contacted the Pawlus family and accepted the Chef position at Wilder's Steak House. Serving as Chef, Sean had all the freedom in the world and it was the best cooking job of his career. 

With their second girl, Kiera Young, born in 2010, Sean found himself in the same predicament that every professional cook encounters: a family at home, but being wrapped up on nights and weekends in the restaurant. Missing out on dinners with the whole family, bedtime stories, and quality time with his girls, Sean started considering some visions he had for a while. He remembered walks home with his father, after experiencing that small cafe in Victor, where he would have conversations about a small place, with a small staff, serving inspired food. Sean even knew WHERE he wanted his dream cafe... where he got his childhood haircuts, Heath Brothers Barber Shop on North Main in Joplin.

Ever since moving back to the area, Sean and Chastity had been striving for their own place. Sean credits Chastity for her incredible patience over the six or seven years of pay cuts and long, late hours, allowing for all his moves, even if they were down instead of up, to gain the experience and knowledge base to someday make their dream come true.

And it did come true! October 23, 2013, Sean and Chastity with at the time, the only full time employee, their "rock", Schuyler Winn, opened The Bruncheonette at 424 North Main St, in the building that formerly housed Heath Brothers. There wasn't much of a leap of faith in opening The Bruncheonette, according to Sean. It pays about the same as the jobs he has held, but he is happy with that given the area and that it is "keeping the family fed and the bills paid."

Sean explained to me that it was more about getting away from nights than serving brunch. They had always planned on breakfast and lunch service, with perhaps benedicts on the weekends. But as Sean pointed out, he couldn't keep brunch off his mind.

"Somehow, a month or two before we opened, that damned eggs benedict kept coming up in conversation and ideas, and the brunch menu began to unfold."

Obviously, the inspiration behind The Bruncheonette came from the small cafe and Chef Matty Lane in Victor, Idaho. But where does Sean's inspiration come from?

During his time at Wilder's, Sean accumulated a great library of the best cookbooks, novels and other media that helps inspire his creativity. Some comes from learning and practicing technique.

"A lot of times, someone (Schuyler, Chastity, or me) will say something stupid, and I can't get it out of my head. So I just have to try it. Sometimes, it works! Peanut butter creme fraiche, for instance. We just have fun; I can't really explain where it comes from."

Today, the full time staff includes Sean & Chastity, Schuyler Winn, Karsten Nicholas, Jordan Jennings, with help from Brandi Prudlick. 

Frankly Speaking...

I met Sean last year as a fellow judge at the tomato contest at the Webb City Farmers Market. He was still working as chef of Wilder's, but was working on getting The Bruncheonette ready for business. I kept in touch with Sean, as I am always interested in talking to local chefs that focus on locally sourced product and bring creativity to their menus. Once Sean and Chastity opened up, I was excited about the menu and the unique daily offerings. 

I have never been disappointed in anything I have ordered. He brings in some ingredients that no one in Joplin is even trying to utilize, and then, uses them in unorthodox preparations to make a dish magical. I mean, Sean actually put a thick, rich slab of foie gras right onto a Monte Cristo. It was amazing how it melted right into the Gruyere and ham. Or the truffle benedict... using a gentle hand in adding enough of the prized truffle to the dish to make it discernible, but not overpower the dish. 

Sean, Chastity and the entire staff are all extremely friendly and helpful. Every time I have been in, either Sean and/or Chastity will come around to see how everyone is enjoying their meals. 

A couple of aspects might cause some to balk at only a quick glance: prices and size/busyness of the restaurant. As far as prices go, yes, they aren't dollar menu at McCorporate. But you also aren't getting crap food. The prices are actually extremely reasonable for the quality and portions of food you receive. When you eat at The Bruncheonette, you know that part of that money is going out to local farmers and food producers that Sean purchases from. And you know those ingredients are raised responsibly, sustainably, and with great care. There's a LOT of pride in those ingredients, and in the food Sean and Crew put out, especially given how incredibly generous and humble the Flanagans are. 

As far as how busy The Bruncheonette can be... The place is small. The place is generally packed during prime brunch hours. You can't sit down, first; you must go to the counter to order before selecting a table. Do you know why? No matter how busy it has been, I have never had to stand and wait for a table after ordering my food; the system works, and it works well. Somehow, the Flanagans have figured out the art of keeping the seating process flowing well, and it is very successful for The Bruncheonette. So, if you see a trail of cars parked along Main Street, do not fear going inside and still getting seated. 

I highly recommend that everyone give The Bruncheonette a try. I have no problem when I say I truly believe they are the hottest restaurant in Joplin, Missouri, right now! 

Give them a try! 

The Bruncheonette is open at 424 North Main Street, Wednesday through Friday from 6:30am - 2:00pm, Saturday from 9:00am - 2:00pm, and Sunday from 9:00am - 2:00pm, or as supplies and cooks wits last! In addition to the menu, they offer wrapped and ready-to-go burritos for anyone needing to grab breakfast quickly on their way to work. Their number is (417) 781-3447.

They have a Facebook page here. Click on over, and give them a Like. Whether on Facebook or when you go in to try them out, be sure to let them know you read about them on Frank About Food. 

Also, access their page on Urbanspoon by clicking the banner below:

The Bruncheonette on Urbanspoon


  1. Just ate their Friday for the first time and loved it .I liked the Bruncheonette on my Facebook page so I get to see the pictures of their daily specials, I will definitely be returning soon.

  2. I've only visited a few times, but everything I've had has been exquisite!