Lets just get to the point. The new Price Cutter Bistro Market in downtown Springfield, MO is possibly one of the best things to happen to downtown Springfield in a long…long long time. That being said, here are our thoughts after spending some time there on opening night last night.
This place is simply awesome. From the minute you walk in, you feel like you went through a Star Trek transporter and landed in a big city market. Stuff like this simply hasn’t existed in Springfield until now. There are 3 entrances. One off the south end of the building through their parking lot and two off of South Avenue. If you walk in the north South Ave. entrance, you re between the bar and seating area to your right and the massive hot food buffet, breakfast buffet and prepared food cooler to your left. Even further to your left, a Starbucks and a gelato bar.
The Market/Grocery Area
We first walked beyond that to explore the rest of the market. They have an expansive alcohol, beer and wine selection with competitive prices. The layout is a little tight, but that is to be expected with anything downtown (if you’ve ever lived in a loft, you know what we’re talking about). The layout is extremely well planned. If you’re looking at wines, the fine cheese selection is right there. If you’re looking at eggs, bacon is right there. Its the type of thing you’d like to see more of in other stores. I imagine I could complete my grocery run in about 5 mins here.
As far as what types of things they have in stock, pretty much everything a normal Price Cutter does, but less quantity and more selection. They have almost anything you could want or need, but in smaller quantities. I’m a foodie and make a wide variety of dishes at home. I’m constantly unhappy with food selection in Southwest Missouri. This may change that. From a meat counter that includes Kobe beef to one of the best seafood selections in town, along with a touch screen recipe station in front of the meat counter that will help you quickly get a recipe and shopping list that will make quick meal planning and execution easy.
Notable features of market:
- Smart layout
- Wide selection
- Amazing produce selection (photo #11) (its hard to find kale for Portuguese soup in the Ozarks)
- Incredible produce selection (photo #8) with self service olive bar (photo #10)
- Good meat counter with knowledgeable staff
- HUGE wall of bulk-style feeders for flour, rices, nuts, snacks, etc (photo #9)
- Make your own butter station (photo #7)
- Great beer, wine and liquor selection
The Bistro Area
Let me ask this, where else can you grocery shop while drinking a beer, cocktail, or bottle of wine? NOWHERE! We’re in Springfield, MO. This didn’t exists until yesterday! This place is incredible. Also, if you buy a bottle of wine, for a small $5 cork fee, you can drink it while shopping (you can also have them re-cork the bottle so you can enjoy the rest of the bottle at home). There is a gigantic hot bar that serves things like roasted chicken, fried catfish with hush puppies, chicken wings, lasagna and much much much much more with revolving options. The price seemed a little steep at $8.49 for the hot bar (until we realized in included the salad bar too – BOTH are all you can eat). You can also get a fresh made sandwich made exactly how you want it. They also have a full kitchen with a very large staff of cooks to make you anything from their menu of burgers, hot dogs, breakfast, salads, sides and more…all for fairly reasonable prices. They also have an equally large salad bar. This is the best salad bar in town. Not the cheapest, but the best. You can chose from every fruit, nut, cheese and topping that you could want and it goes forever. Some of the salads these people were making looked like Donald Trump funded them. I barely even got to see the gelato bar or the Starbucks because they were absolutely packed. On the South Avenue wall, they have an open cooler with a selection of fresh, but pre-made, packaged and ready to-go sandwiches, sushi, pizza, dinners, sides and more. Everything here is very attractively priced with very large sandwiches going for $3-6 (images #13-14). The food selection is huge. The food is good. Most of it is affordable and priced right with a few choices on the made-to-order menu being a tad bit over priced by a dollar or two. They have a breakfast bar that plans to be open until 2 am. They also have a station where you can get your own crepe or Belgian waffles made fresh.
After walking around the place for 20 minutes, my girlfriend and I started to get pretty hungry and decided to try to find a quick $5 lunch option on the menu. Luckily we found the All American burger for only $2.99. A good old fashioned cheeseburger with lettuce, onions, pickle and tomato. On the menu board it is listed as $2.99 but on the printed menus they were $3.99. The staff was very nice and gave it to us for the $2.99 listed on the menu board. We chose fresh made-to-order chips for only $.99 and were surprised that there was a selection of sweet potato or russet. We chose a mixture of both. We could have walked away there with a $4 lunch and been happy, but we were parched because it was a madhouse in there with so many people checking it out. We added a tea for around a dollar more. The burger was made fresh and was great. Nothing amazing, but very good, fresh, tasty and a good portion. (see images #15-16)
We were downtown again for a show at The Outland and needed to grab a quick bite. Our favorite place we planned on hitting was closed so we figured we’d give the buffet a shot. Um, WOW. The ability to quickly grab a hot meal a block away from the center of downtown that fed the tastes of two people in completely different moods was great. My girlfriend shamelessly ate both her gigantic salad and her overstuffed dinner plates nearly clean. The food was good, tasty, and wholesome. No instant mashed potatoes here. The fried chicken was hot and wasn’t dry at all. Same goes for the catfish. The hush puppies were Madeline’s favorite thing. The staff was fast and very helpful. When we were walking away with a tray of two overloaded plates, they said to just come back if we wanted anything else. Oh, those lovely LOVELY words. All in all, it was way more food than we should have eaten (but hey, we had to thoroughly test it out, right? We take our job seriously!)
I just can’t find anything wrong with this picture. Oh well, I see one possible thing. The window on Walnut (the North side of the building) that houses a gigantic wooden rack of alcohol. How long will this window survive before someone busts through to the glorious haven of alcohol on the other side (see image #21)?
Notable features of bistro:
- IT HAS A BAR with draft and bottle beer (domestic and import), cocktails and sodas
- Seating in bar area…also outdoor seating on Southeast corner sidewalk on South Ave.
- Fast. Very easy to be in and out. Staff was helpful in this as well.
- Wide selection for tastes and budgets and schedules
- Plenty of staff…helpful staff
- You have hot food, cold food, salad bar, fried chicken, a bar bar, a Starbucks, a gelato bar and magazine rack all within a few feet.
- The freshly made food is really good (I can vouch for the burger and chips)
- The hot bar food was also better than expected (We heard a number of people commenting on how good the fried chicken, catfish and various items were. To paraphrase a few; “It wasn’t like food from a grocery store, but like food from an actual restaurant.”)
Note: They have WiFi!
Price Cutter seems to have really done things right with the new downtown location. My girlfriend and I kept saying how we wish there was something like that when we lived downtown, maybe we wouldn’t have left the downtown area. This may be the big boost downtown has been waiting for to become less of a nightlife destination and more of a neighborhood. I don’t see it hurting other downtown restaurants much. Although they do offer similar things like sandwiches and burgers, they don’t directly compete with anyone. Its one thing when you have two burger joints going head to head, but another when you have a burger joint and a smorgasbord. My only concern is the gelato. There has been an sudden emergence of gelato and dessert places opening this month and hopefully Price Cutter doesn’t hurt their business. In fact I see it possibly going the other way and that people might prefer the boutique dessert shops. If one or the other had to happen, the latter would be ideal because Price Cutter could easily adapt. What are your thoughts?
Hopefully others follow in Price Cutter’s lead and see the potential and help revitalize the downtown area.
Questions or Comments?
So what are your thoughts? We at TAGsgf are very curious to see what you think about the new market and how you think it may affect downtown Springfield.
Here are a few photos I nabbed with my phone. Sorry some are blurry, it was a madhouse in there.