Ozark is a town where history is celebrated, where old traditions blend with new memories being made.
Without the old Riverside Inn, it needed a place where people could come have a meal, enjoy an atmosphere full of ambiance, and enjoy great company. The Finley opened to diners in 2018, a restaurant inside a century-old building that was once a church.
In October, The Finley will celebrate three years in business. On June 5, owners Terry and Stephanie Mitchell learned that they own Ozark's 2020 Business of the Year.
"A lot of people have asked us how we got into the restaurant business, and we're still trying to figure that out," Terry Mitchell joked.
The Ozark Chamber of Commerce and the Finley River Community Foundation honored the Finley with the award at a banquet at the Ozark Community Center. Businesses are nominated for the award from the general public through a nomination process ending with a selection committee.
Whether you want an appetizer and a drink, a weekend brunch, a lunch that breaks from the ordinary or a more intimate dinner out, you can get it at The Finley. The business survived through the challenges of being a new restaurant at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic brought tremendous uncertainty to the restaurant industry.
"It hasn't been without the help of a lot of really good people and a great team," Mitchell said. "We work really hard. I've got a great crew, and a lot of them have been with us since Day 1."
M. Elise Crain, a former Ozark Citizen of the Year Award-winner in 2011, helped nominate The Finley, in part for how much history is preserved inside the church-turned-restaurant just off the square in Ozark.
"This year's business of the year is like me, it's a piece of history," Crain joked. "It's a 100-plus-year old building. It's been repurposed, it's in the Historic River District and it has all kinds of wonderful features from the World's Fair in 1904."
The chamber and the Finley River Community Foundation also honored Cynthia Glenn as Ozark’s 2020 Citizen of the Year.
Glenn was recognized for the servant-leader impact she makes on her community, starting with her willingness to help take the Ozark High School JROTC teams to competitions, and ending with helping a friend recover from injuries suffered in a car accident. Whether it was helping one person or a widely-recognized group of people, Glenn was willing to lend a hand.
She was caught completely by surprise that she had been nominated, let alone that she had won the award. Her children were able to be there for her award acceptance moment.
"I think that we've always just tried to do the right thing, and to teach them the right thing. Just to be a able to be a part of this community is really great for us," Glenn said.
Cynthia Glenn and her husband, Kevin, run Blue Monkey Towing in Sparta. Through their business, they often see clients who are having a bad day because of a vehicle breakdown, or even one of the worst days of their lives because of a car accident. Drawing on the simple idea of trying to do the right thing, Glenn is able to make a positive difference in the lives of clients, friends and family members.
Ozark Community Awards Banquet
2020 Business of the Year: The Finley
2020 Ozark Citizen of the Year: Cynthia Glenn
2020 Ozark Chamber Star of the Year: Audrey Pauls, Ozark Chamber of Commerce
Ozark Firefighter of the Year: Kyle Heminger
Ozark Police Officer of the Year: Anthony Appleton
Helen Hawkins Award for Teacher of the Year: Robin Hammons
Karen and Dennis Miller Secondary Teacher of the Year: Andy Thompson
Ozark Schools Support Staff of the Year: Keith Mitchum