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Oliver's Ozarks: New Eatery Serves Familiar Feeling of Old Riverside Inn

OZARK, Mo. -- There's a new dining option opening in Ozark, but this place may feel like an old familiar friend to generations of families.
OZARK, Mo. -- If there's one thing for certain about life in the Ozarks, it's that we like to eat at restaurants.

You see a restaurant on nearly every corner; some make it while others don't. There's a new dining option opening in Ozark, but this place may feel like an old familiar friend to generations of families.
 
For 86 years, the Riverside Inn in Ozark was arguably one of the area's most popular restaurants. It was a place where memories were made.
 
"Lots of people have a special connection with Riverside. It sounds weird, but it's like a person," says former owner Lisa Engel.
 
But in 2009, Riverside Inn served its last meal. Perpetual flooding caused it to close forever.
 
"It was like a death, like a mourning, for a lot of customers as well," adds Engel. "You have to close one door to open another."
 
Former Riverside owners Eric and Lisa Engel will open a new door. It's called Marley's Dinner House, right off highway CC in Ozark. It's named for Mary Ellen Marley, the first cook at Riverside when it opened in 1923. She was the righthand to original owner Howard Garrison.
 
"Mary Ellen worked there for free at times because during the Depression they had hard times as well. She was with Howard during prohibition. She was arrested once for pouring booze down the sink when the feds came to arrest Howard."
 
Mary Ellen also came up with the fried chicken recipe that Riverside regulars will remember. It's going to be on the menu at Marley's. It's even a feature on the sign out front.
 
"We got to be well known for our prime rib on the weekends, too, and our steaks, but probably fried chicken was our staple item. We're not trying to duplicate Riverside. It was a classic, and the building there, you can't replace that."
 
But what they are trying to do is bring back just a little of the familiar feeling that customers came to know at the old iconic eatery.
 
"From our old staff to myself and Eric, it's like you opened up a flood of passion again. It's just so exciting. I think your goal is to feel the soul of a place and Riverside was that way. People felt at home. They felt the soul. I think when our personalities get in here they'll feel the soul of it, and that's a good thing."
 
Eighty percent of the staff from Riverside have signed on to work at the new Marley's Dinner House. They are going to have at least one of Howard Garrison's paintings on the wall in the new place. His artwork was part of what made Riverside such a relic. The Engels hope to open Marley's in 2 to 3 weeks.
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