When Dan Dethrow, BA ’04, informed his father and former Booche’s owner Jerry Dethrow, BA ’72, of his plan to open an eatery in Columbia, the elder restaurateur was supportive yet sage.
“He said, ‘Just think about it,’ ” says Dan with a laugh. “He knows how much work it is. He knows the hours are insane and it’s one of the highest-risk business ventures.”
The Midwestern-theme restaurant, Flyover, took off in August 2016 on the south side of town and has soared to the forefront of CoMo’s culinary community. Dan is co-owner and “cocktail manager,” while business partner and executive chef Adam Wells-Morgan, A&S ’99, authors an ever-evolving menu showcasing a region of the country foodies often overlook.
“When national people talk about the Midwest, they usually only talk about Chicago,” Wells-Morgan says. “Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri get ‘flown over’ as if we don’t exist. We thought it would be fun to take something that is supposed to be a derogatory term and make it something awesome.”
During the research phase of the business plan, the entrepreneurial duo toured California when the comfort-food boom was gaining momentum. Although Dethrow and Wells-Morgan were encouraged to see familiar entrees and concoctions on menus, they noticed a bit too much gold in the Golden State’s prices.
“We went to Wayfare Tavern, which is (celebrity chef) Tyler Florence’s restaurant, and it’s a phenomenal restaurant,” Wells-Morgan says. “But one of their best sellers is a fried chicken dish and he wants $32 for it. I tried it and I thought, this is good, but let me show you how it’s done, Mr. Florence.”
Flyover aims for “an upscale experience without the attitude,” Dethrow says. “You can come in dressed in a three-piece suit or jeans and a T-shirt and you’re going to feel fine either way.”
Popular items include chicken-fried cauliflower; hand-made pretzels with fondue; and a beef-and-pork meatloaf wrapped in bacon, cooked sous vide and finished in the restaurant’s signature wood-fired oven.
If the menu sounds like music to your mouth, it might be because these Mizzou alumni spent time in the MU School of Music while earning income at local restaurants. Dethrow and Wells-Morgan play a variety of woodwinds and horns, and both have worked in an array of now-defunct establishments such as Trattoria Strata Nova, Cocina Sorella, and Village Wine and Cheese, as well as the alive-and-well Booche’s, Tellers and the Club at Old Hawthorne.
Wells-Morgan spent a semester at Mizzou and eventually left to pursue a culinary arts degree. Dethrow has a music degree from MU in addition to a master’s from the University of Indiana.
“The whole time going through school I was always bartending or waiting tables,” Dethrow says. “When I was in Indiana, we built a bar in our garage and had the neighbors over. I was always happiest tending bar. This is what I love doing.”