Springfield has many wonderful assets to offer young professionals, but one that seems to rise to the top is our amazing and ever-changing foodie culture – our amazing selection of restaurants, coffee shops, breweries and more.
In the past decade, our community has become a destination for individuals in the region just for our food and beverage industry, so The Network brought in some people with first-hand experience. Nearly 90 young professionals gathered at Reverie in the Farmers Park to hear from Michelle Billionis, owner of The Coffee Ethic; Jake Duensing, owner of Great Escape Beer Works; and Michael Schmitz, owner and proprietor of Progress.
There’s a lot to foodie culture in our community, so we focused on where we’ve been, where we’re at and where we’re going. But before diving in, we had to their favorite food. Some of their favorites included red sauce meatballs and pasta, fresh Missouri peaches, and – of course – Springfield Chinese food!
Michelle started by talking about what the local coffee industry was like 10 years ago. She said there were only a handful of people working in the business in our area. And the same could be said about the craft beer industry – but look how far we’ve come!
When asked potential areas for improvement in SGF foodie culture, the panelists encouraged people to stretch out of their comfort zone. We are becoming a coffee destination, but there’s also more to discover in the coffee world. For food, we are attracting foodie tourists here!
We know young professionals enjoy our food and beverage spots, but how have we influenced the foodie culture? According to the speakers, YPs ARE the foodie scene. We are the No. 1 guests they look to; they value us, and we will cross town to explore new places.
In the end, the panelists said the one thing they wanted YPs to take away from the event was that it was just a small snippet of what is going on in our community. We must continue to explore our city – and get to know the owners of our small businesses and support them.