More than a grain elevator
When it comes to local restaurants, it’s not out of the ordinary to hear the phrase “family business.” However, Farmers Grain Kitchen + Cellar, located just west of downtown Edmond, takes the concept to new heights.
Located in the former Edmond Flour Mill—Oklahoma’s first grain elevator and mill, Farmers Grain is a labor of love from brothers Payne and Cy Mills.
“The building is historical and has been here for such a long time, being an area where people know to come get farm ingredients and farm items,” said Payne, the restaurant’s chef. “Being someone that likes doing scratch cooking and likes working with local ingredients, it made sense to design a kitchen around our passion for those things. That way, work isn’t work; it’s just our passion.”
From farm to table
The restaurant’s concept revolves around a farm-to-table menu, leaning heavily on local ingredients.
“We try to be local because we find that to be the best ingredients and the best way to make things taste good,” Payne said. “So instead of trying to change food a lot, we just try to find good food and put it on the plate.”
But for Cy, Farmers Grain’s sommelier, local food pairs best with a global experience.
“What I wanted to bring was a little bit of European comfort—not an aesthetic, not an appeal, not an artistic approach, not a snootiness about it,” he said. “When you go to Europe and eat, you sit down for hours with your family. That’s what I wanted people to do here. I wanted them to spend the time with their loved ones, put their phones away and enjoy their food, enjoy their beverages, and be here for three or four hours.”
The duo intertwines their passions for quality ingredients and wine selections to create an elevated experience that showcases wonders found close to home.
“We take inspiration from wonderful food from around the world, and we say, ‘how would you make it here if all you had was the farmer’s market?’ And that’s where we start,” Cy said. “Then, we source as many of those local ingredients as we’re able to. Every day, we push more toward finding farms that can provide those things and getting less of it off of a boat or a train or a plane.”
A labor of love
Like many business owners, the Mills brothers put blood, sweat, and tears into starting their restaurant.
“We remodeled everything,” Cy said. “We did every bit of it that we could do. Because we grew up doing it. We definitely bled in this place for sure.”
When their father set his sights on the vacant property, the brothers banded together to create something meaningful.
“We grew up here. We bought things here growing up. It was a part of our childhood,” Cy said. “When it became available, let’s see what happens. Let’s see what we can do. We took the risk that we would do a wonderful restaurant right outside of downtown Edmond, an area that is currently up and coming.”
And both brothers were up for the task. Payne brought his many years of experience working alongside aspiring master chefs and running his own concepts. Cy joined the endeavor after studying under a master sommelier and working extensively as a sommelier on his own.
“Not only is he pairing with the food, but I’m pairing the level of dining we’re doing with the beverages he’s providing and the experience they provide out here in the dining room,” Payne said.
But the family impact doesn’t end there.
Payne’s wife, Rachel Mills, is Farmers Grain’s baker and pastry chef, and Cy’s wife, Andrea Mills, keeps the accounting and operations in order.
“We’ve managed to do it well,” Cy said. “No one’s killed each other yet. No one hates each other. We’ve managed to do what people say you can’t do, and it’s been fun for us.”
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About Brent Fuchs
Brent Fuchs is an editorial and commercial photographer based in Edmond. He received a B.A. in photojournalism from UCO, where he minored in history. His work has appeared in numerous area publications, and his photos have received awards from both The Associated Press and The Oklahoma Press Association.