When brothers Cy and Payne Mills got the old Farmer’s Grain store building, they intended to convert the old supply store into an upscale restaurant and wine bar.
Three years later, the two boys born and raised in Edmond are about to realize that dream with Farm grain kitchen + Cellar102 W 1 St.
“My brother and I have a passion for hospitality and catering, and my dad is a general contractor,” Cy Mills said. “We did all the renovations ourselves, and all the renovations on the side. The pandemic and financial constraints made this process long.”
The stop-start nature of their ongoing narrative inspired creativity. Instead of waiting to acquire all the staff needed to operate the space as a full-time, full-service restaurant, the Mills brothers decided to open their doors a few nights a week for a limited audience.
The pop-up series allows Farmers Grain to begin building an audience for chef Payne Mills’ playful and elegant food styles.
“I’ve been a chef for a long time and I’m the kind of chef who likes to play with food,” Payne said. “I’m also a farmer now, I have pigs to feed when I get home tonight, so we want to provide a farm-to-table experience.”
After spending time in Vast when it was chef Andrew Black’s playground, Mills went north to Michigan and eventually made a few stops at notable restaurants in Chicago. Now a farm owner, Payne says his presence in the kitchen has softened, but his style remains the same.
I tasted a sample of it last week at an afternoon tasting that included strawberry shortcake colliding with duck eggs to make salad, ravioli that was reminiscent of a country breakfast but were clearly for dinner, a carrot gastrique as magnificent as it was sumptuous and lobster ice cream.
Brother Cy presented the wines, which he was still working on for the next pop-up. He worked in the spirits industry in Colorado for four years under a master sommelier, which inspired him to pursue the same certification. The Texas A&M graduate got into the Gig ‘Em homecoming catering business, finding work in beverage operations at Vast and then Flint in their early chapters. He and his wife also own nearby Location 102.
“The wine should accentuate my brother’s cooking and style, but also stand on its own,” Cy said. “We want the food and the wine to be the star, so we try to keep it casual. We want people to have fun – like my brother did with the food and I did with the wine.”
He said signature cocktails and drinks will also be available when the bar is finally unleashed.
During service at the Farmers Grain pop-ups, Payne anchors the kitchen with chefs Kari Clark-Garrett and Corey Kirklin while Cy hustles through the dining room to showcase the wines and answer any questions about them.
It’s a dress rehearsal for the day Farmers Grain is full and can run a full service at full capacity. The farm-to-table approach with premium wine service will fuel interest in the east side of the property.
On the west side, construction continues where the family will offer something more laid back.
“We’re working more on a terrace sports bar concept,” Cy said. “We will share a kitchen but offer a more accessible menu and a relaxed atmosphere.”
Farmers Grain will continue to offer pop-up events until full. At this time, events are taking place on Friday and Saturday evenings by reservation only.
“We do about 20 covers on Friday and Saturday nights right now,” Cy said. “We would like to increase that number to 30 or 40 as we add staff.”
To book, go online at resy.com and search for Farmers Grain. We will have more Farmers Grain coverage as the project progresses.