Way of the Entrepreneur: The Java Stop Cafe/The Wine Rack

Nov 13, 2007

Kevin Boxx, Chef and Manager, The Wine Rack/The Java Stop CafePerhaps it’s in the blood: His father was a chef at John J. Pershing Veterans Administration Medical Center; his grandmother, a baker at a sanatorium in Mt. Vernon, Missouri. Today, Kevin Boxx of Ellsinore is chef and general manager of The Java Stop Cafe, a cosmopolitan eatery seemingly plucked from Chicago’s Hyde Park and put down again, mysteriously, on Highway 67 in Poplar Bluff.

The Java Stop’s companion shop is The Wine Rack, a gourmet market that seems also to have made the cosmic trip from the Windy City intact. Together, the two parts make up one establishment with a single mission: to purvey quality comestibles, wines, beers, and spirits to patrons in these environs with professionalism and flair.

The Java Stop’s got espresso, fresh-fruit smoothies, deli meats, uncommon cheeses, and A  View of the Dining Area, The Java Stop Cafeultra-rich baked goods. There are traditional breakfasts on the menu, and variations on that theme; sandwiches feature fresh greens and alluring combinations of deli slices and cheeses, accented with such items as pesto, grilled red onions, pecans, cranberries, and sun-dried tomatoes. There’s no skimping on the bread, either: The “staff of life” comes in many forms at The Java Stop, and it’s all baked on the premises.

The Wine Rack, Poplar BluffBoxx honed his craft at Vermont’s New England Culinary Institute in the ’80s, and eventually opened two Ritz Carlton hotels as pastry chef. He went on to perform pastry magic at The Lodge at Vail, whose Wildflower restaurant has garnered national acclaim. Boxx returned to southeast Missouri to be closer to family, and here he put his management skills to the test by first assuming operations at The Wine Rack in 2005.

What began as a gourmet-item and wine shop in 2003—The Wine Rack—has given birth to The Java Stop Cafe, where evenings are for fine dining inspired by great cuisines from around the world. Boxx’s main influences derive from all over Europe and Asia; his flexible menu reflects the emphasis he places on the use of fresh and seasonal items.Jacob Wisdom, Sommelier, The Wine Rack

The establishment has recently retained the services of sommelier Jacob Wisdom of Doniphan, who stands ready to assist diners in selecting just the wine that will best suit both entree and personal sensibilities. Wisdom says his goal is “to make wine unintimidating, to make it fun”.

Weekend evenings feature live musical entertainment; there are film nights; alternating-monthly wine, beer, and spirit tastings; and holiday parties as well.

Remember the 1954 Paramount classic Sabrina, in which a love-struck Audrey Hepburn came back from France’s premier cooking school and couldn’t even boil an egg? Well, it would appear that southeast Missouri native son Kevin Boxx has made rather better use of his time in Vermont.

Why not let your tastebuds be the judge?

The Java Stop Cafe & The Wine Rack, 1212 Westwood Blvd., Poplar Bluff. Tel: 573-785-0999. Gift baskets and gift cards available. For more information on the live-performance schedule, menu offerings, or The Wine Rack’s outstanding selection of wines, beers, and spirits, please visit the establishment’s website.

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