After moving into St. Louis, Steve became the director of Restore St. Louis, a ministry that helps people with issues such as home repair, health care and tutoring. It was through this outreach, a local gang member told Steve what the community really needed was jobs.
This conversation in 2017 planted the seed with Steve for a jobs-focused ministry, which would eventually become Have A Cow. The plan was for a restaurant, fueled by their own cattle farm, that would hire people from the neighborhood who had difficulty finding employment elsewhere. Plus, the restaurant would provide good food and be a meeting place for the neighborhood — a vital connection between urban and rural communities.
Steve and Lisa, who are members of Crawford Electric Cooperative, joined forces with their fellow Restore St. Louis colleague, Tom Shuman, who brought a restaurant background to the team.
“The only parameters Steve put on the initial menu conversation is he wanted to have two primary signature items,” says Tom, Have A Cow’s head chef. “One of them was a world-class cinnamon roll. The other one was the fact he was raising cows, so we probably ought to sell really good hamburgers.”
Breakfast is served all day at Have A Cow. The menu’s top seller is the Bunkhouse Breakfast, which includes two eggs, homestyle potatoes, one pancake and your choice of bacon, sausage or roasted vegetables. Other breakfast options include cinnamon rolls, Belgian waffles, biscuits and gravy, omelets and quiches.
All forms of caffeine are offered throughout the day. Choose from a dozen coffee drinks that start as whole beans ground in the middle of the restaurant. The popular MOOchiato is espresso, steamed milk and vanilla topped with caramel sauce. You can also grab a mug of loose-leaf brewed tea served hot or iced. The Front Porch Special is the house brew of Earl Gray, jasmine and spearmint.
The breakfast menu is complemented by a hefty offering of sandwiches, burgers, soups and salads for the lunch crowd. Hamburgers are the highest selling nonbreakfast option. Tom and Steve also recommend the Farmer’s Catch, a flame-broiled whitefish with lettuce and tomato; the Slightly Spicy Brisket Sandwich, slow-roasted brisket with barbecue sauce and pepper jack cheese; the Roasted Veggie Panini, flame-roasted vegetables topped with pepper jack cheese; and the Cow Kicker, housemade meatloaf topped with barbecue sauce and jalapenos.
“I’m a sucker for a good meatloaf sandwich,” Tom says. “Ours is a substantial sandwich.”
If you’re after a lighter option, select from the several salad options. Steve’s goal was to offer salads that actually fill you up and Lisa wanted customers to be able to pick the toppings. Hence the Field Greens + 3 and Field Greens + 5. From more than 15 toppings, you can select three or five to add to a base of field greens. Another popular salad option is The Ranch Hand, which includes roasted vegetables served hot on a bed of mixed greens. You can add steak, chicken or fish to any of the salad options.
“We deliver nonpretentious, straightforward and good food,” Tom says. “There’s nowhere to hide in our menu. We have to be consistent through training and upholding our standards.”
Have A Cow represents many new chapters for Steve and Lisa. In creating the business, they became farmers, restaurant owners, coffee bean purveyors and more.
“I’d never raised cattle before, but my brother, Mark, raises cattle in California,” Steve says. “I’ve always been jealous of him, and he encouraged me to try it. I’m always learning new things, and I love sharing the day-to-day aspects of the farm with people who come into the restaurant. They want to be part of the farming life in Missouri.”
When customers place their orders at Have A Cow, they don’t receive your standard number. Instead, they are handed a small stand with a photo and name of one of Steve and Lisa’s cows. The customers love it, Steve says, and look forward to meeting new members of the herd during their visits.
Have A Cow offers a perfect destination for St. Louis locals or visitors, since major attractions such as the St. Louis Zoo, Busch Stadium and the St. Louis Science Center are all just minutes away. While the food may call customers into the restaurant, Steve says they stay for the community and joyful environment.
“Our customers say things like, ‘I can’t put my finger on what this is, but everyone’s happy,’ ” Steve says. “As a team, our whole goal is to love anybody who walks through that door and serve them.”
To many, the more-than-the-food mission of Have A Cow is complicated, ambitious and maybe even a little crazy — hence the memorable name.
“Growing up kids used to say, ‘Don’t have a cow, man!’ ” Steve says. “That meant don’t get all excited about something. But if you’re going to have change come, it’s going to take something crazy. If it’s crazy to love your enemy, our challenge is to have a cow.”
Specialties: All-day breakfast options, including pastries, combos, pancakes, biscuits and gravy and quiches. Burgers, sandwiches, customizable salads and soups. Customers can also enjoy a full coffee menu, hot or iced teas, craft beer, wine, seltzers, ciders and cocktails.
Price: Breakfast entrees from $7 to $15. Pastries from $2 to $4.50. Salads and sandwiches from $11 to $18.
Details: Open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cash, credit cards and Apple Pay accepted. Free Wi-Fi. Nonsmoking. Restaurant is located at 2742 Lafayette Ave. in St. Louis. Contact at 314-261-0305 and www.haveacow.farm.