106 West Main, Smithville | 816-532-2300
Since opening Justus Drugstore in the Smithville building that once housed his family's pharmacy, chef Jonathan Justus has received national media attention for his regional cuisine. It's been a dazzling success story over the past three years, but not all of it has been Missouri peaches and Shatto cream. Jealousy from other local chefs has reared its ugly head at least a couple of times, including criticism of his intense drive. "I am absolutely a perfectionist," Justus says. "But I never belittle my staff, never treat them with anything but respect. I have a very loyal staff who work very long hours with me because they believe in what I'm doing. I think this is the greatest reflection of my restaurant's success." And if being a chef and owner is more stressful than simply cooking for someone else, he says it's well worth it. "I worked for a restaurant owner who told me one day I could no longer use butter because it was too expensive," he says. "I would have to use margarine. I just walked out." There's no substitute for the real thing, and Justus is the real thing.