Local restaurant owners revamp into new to-go concept

Margaret Mattox and Doug McGregor were the owners of Seasons Bistro and Grille, a Downtown Springfield upscale dining restaurant on South Limestone Street, for 12 years.

Like with many small businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic but unexpected challenges on Seasons and force Mattox and McGregor to close its doors in May 2020.

But, the Springfield-native brother and sister team quickly put their entrepreneurial skills to task to open a new concept – Seasons Kitchen. Located in the basement of the Bushnell Building, Seasons Kitchen is a catering business and produces a weekly menu of carryout meals.

“We initially set it up as a catering business, and while we hope to continue to grow that arm of the business into the future, most of our business at this point is based on a stay-safe-and-keep-your-distance concept with out weekly ‘ready to heat’ curbside meal pickup,” says Mattox, who graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in deaf education. She taught for a couple years in the Nashville area before moving back to Springfield.

She had a small taste of restaurant experience working for a family friend before convincing her brother, Doug, to open a restaurant in Springfield. McGregor had been working in the food industry for many years, primarily in Colorado, before moving back to Springfield about 15 years ago.

McGregor graduated from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, with a degree in communications. But, he worked in restaurants, starting as a dishwasher and moving his way up to sous chef.

He attended culinary school at Colorado Mountain College and really valued his experience through the apprenticeship program.

“We really enjoyed Seasons Bistro and Grille, but full-service restaurants, especially those that change their menu as often as we did, are very difficult to sustain, even during the best of times,” Mattox says. “When the pandemic struck last spring, it took a tremendous toll upon the restaurant industry, and it was not sustainable for us to remain open as a dine-in establishment. We made the difficult decision to close the restaurant and started dreaming up new ideas pretty quickly.”

Seasons Kitchen meals are offered strategically, served chilled, and are ready for reheating whenever people want to eat. The weekly menu is posted on their website and Facebook page every Friday, with curbside pickup each Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. at 16 N. Fountain Ave.

“There are a lot of creative and delicious meals that will reheat beautifully either in a microwave or on the stovetop,” Mattox says. “This way customers can pick up multiple items, take them home and reheat and enjoy over the next several days.

“Ordering and payment are all done online, and food is all delivered curbside, so it is as easy and touch-free as you can get. This new concept allows us to offer a sense of normalcy and comfort through good food delivered right to your car.”

All of the details about the curbside pickup and catering options are on their website or by calling 937-521-2100. Seasons Kitchen also offers catering including box lunches, private events, plated dinners, or drop-off meals with a wide range of options.

“We have enjoyed cooking our customers’ favorites from the restaurant and are enjoying the chance to be creative and come up with new ideas each week,” Mattox says, adding that their friend and “soup master” from the former restaurant joins them a couple days each week to recreate many of the restaurant’s most popular soup dishes. “Other than that, it’s very much a family business as Doug’s wife, Janelle, and my husband, Will, have both been involved and continue to play a huge role in developing and executing the new concept.”

The new concept is part of the entrepreneurial spirit that has always been strong in their family. Mattox says they inherited the entrepreneurial gene from their father, Dan McGregor, but trace the tradition of entrepreneurship all the way back to their great-great grandfather, Frank, and his brother, David, who began a rose-growing business in the 1800’s.

“This tradition continued through our grandfather and his sons with their manufacturing businesses – Morgal, OSMI, Rose City, and Carmichael - together known as the McGregor Metalworking Companies. We are proud to be yet another generation of siblings carrying on the entrepreneurial spirit, right here in Springfield,” she says.

Mattox says she and McGregor chose to start and keep their businesses in Springfield because ultimately, it’s their hometown.

“We have a great network of family and friends, and through our years with the restaurant, that has only grown. We are thrilled so many of those people are supporting us again in this new venture,” she says. “We see so many exciting things happening in our downtown. It makes us proud to think we played a small part in that, and we are happy to have the chance to serve Springfield during this trying time.”

The brother and sister act make for a good team. While they both do a little bit of everything to make the business flow, McGregor spends more time in the kitchen and Mattox focuses more on the business side of things.

“We learned to love good food from our family – our mom is a great cook – and we grew up always eating good food,” Mattox says. “We’re very excited about the amazing potential of this concept, even after the new normal is established. Beyond that, we’re always brainstorming ideas and are always looking to reinvent ourselves day after day, month after month, year after year.

“That’s how our family has always done business and how we see ourselves continuing to serve our community, no matter what challenges we may encounter in the days ahead.”

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Read more articles by Cindy Holbrook.