The Story Behind OUr Name
When searching for the perfect name, we looked all over for a personal meaning, something that tied into the history of the building or the bookstore that was in the space for 50+ years.
Our search led us to a short, uncomplicated, follow-your-dreams poem by 19th-century poet Emily Dickinson, To Make A Prairie. The idea of two seemingly simple things, with a dream, being able create something big and beautiful resonated with us and from that The Clover and the Bee was born.
To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee.
One clover, and a bee,
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.
- Emily Dickinson, To Make A Prairie
Born and raised in Alton, Illinois, Mark fell in love with food at an early age. When he wasn’t terrorizing the neighborhood with his three brothers, he would indulge in his favorite cooking shows featuring the likes of Emeril Lagasse, Jack McDavid and Martin Yan. Never foreseeing a “career” in food, he attended the University of Illinois and pursued a degree in business. To earn a little cash, he worked in kitchens throughout his time in Champaign. After graduating, he made the move to Chicago where he landed a job in banking. Though it all looked great on paper, with one of the greatest restaurant cities in the country at his fingertips, the banking gig didn’t last long.
He took his first front of house job working at the perpetually busy Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House. Under the guidance of some of Chicago’s best Maître D's he learned the ins and outs of how to run a great restaurant. While he never lost his passion for the kitchen, he found his true calling in delivering old school hospitality. After stints within Gibsons Restaurant Group, at RL and Gibsons Steakhouse, he earned a spot as General Manager of Hugo’s at the age of 25. In early 2007, Mark and his soon to be wife Jennifer made the move back to St. Louis to tie the knot, start a family, and join what was becoming a very exciting local restaurant community.
After acting as General Manager for two restaurant openings, Mark eventually found a home at the Chesterfield landmark, Annie Gunn’s; here he found his niche. His passion for not just the guest, but also food, wine, beer, cocktails and all aspects of the business evolved. In 2015, having fallen in love with the character and charm of Webster Groves, Mark set out to bring something new to the neighborhood his family called home. Determined to create a friendly, bustling spot with thoughtfully prepared food and gracious hospitality, Olive + Oak was born.