A new restaurant in Troy is a partnership between a local celebrity chef and three businessmen trying to carve their niche in the Illinois gaming industry.
Lottie’s Cafe features the food of Chef Mary Gutzler, who has offered catering, cooking classes and personal-chef services through Chef Gutzler’s Butterfly Patio for six years. She also appears in cooking segments on KMOV’s “Great Day St. Louis.”
The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, including gourmet sandwiches, soups, salads and daily specials, ranging from Apple-stuffed Pork Chops to Pesto Mozzarella Chicken.
“The regular menu is very simple,” said Mary, 36, of Highland. “The specials will be at the full caliber of my capabilities as a chef. That’s my art. That’s my God-given talent. I truly believe we’re all put here to do something, and I’m here to create art in the kitchen.”
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I truly believe we’re all put here to do something, and I’m here to create art in the kitchen.
Mary Gutzler on her love of cooking
Mary’s partners are Rick Frey, of Maryville; Ron Rizzo, of St. Charles, Mo.; and Jim Welch, of South St. Louis County. The three men met while working for breweries.
Their research shows that women, especially ages 40 to 70, enjoy video poker, but many don’t like the types of bars and restaurants that offer it.
“Our concept is to provide good food in a warm, comfortable, friendly atmosphere,” said Ron, 72, a retired brewery marketing specialist.
Lottie’s opened May 16. Gaming machines will be installed soon in a sectioned-off area. A marketing firm came up with the restaurant’s name to give it a welcoming feel.
The partners hope to open five other metro-east locations by year’s end, including one off Beltline Road in Collinsville next month. Mary will serve as executive chef at all of them.
“Partnering with her is a lucky break for us because we already have tremendous exposure for our brand,” said Rick, 52, a commercial real estate broker.
The first Lottie’s is sharing space with Chef Gutzler’s Butterfly Patio headquarters, in a strip mall near Interstate 55 and Illinois 162 in Troy.
The interior has a contemporary look with black furniture, red upholstery, gray walls, coated concrete floors and industrial-style pendulum lights. The granite countertop that Mary uses for cooking classes doubles as a bar with beer and wine.
Attorney Carol Sparks already has become a regular at the restaurant. She met Mary about two years ago at a catered event and later hired her as a personal chef.
I haven’t had any food of hers that is just food. It’s always made to perfection, and it tastes so good.
Carol Sparks on Mary’s food
“I haven’t had any food of hers that is just food,” said Carol, 37, of St. Jacob. “It’s always made to perfection, and it tastes so good.”
Carol’s favorite sandwich so far is the Italian Roast Beef with Au Jus ($9 with chips). Next on her list to try is the Gourmet Panini with ham, bacon, fire-roasted red peppers and three-pepper Colby Jack cheese ($10).
Mary was born in the Joliet area and grew up in foster homes. Butterflies are significant to her because they represent beauty and freedom.
“We had butterflies at my wedding, and my wedding ring is a butterfly design,” said Mary, who now has a blended family of six with her husband, Chris, an accountant.
Mary graduated from Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in St. Peters, Mo., in 2010. She was drawn to the field because of the way food brings people together.
Today, Mary gets most of her meat from Highland’s Tru-Buy, a grocery owned by her husband’s family. She uses Boar’s Head cold cuts and cheeses.
“We don’t have a fryer, so nothing is fried,” she said, wearing a red chef’s coat with American and Mexican flag patches on the collar. Her family is Italian, Mexican and Irish.
“We pan-sear meats if we need to. Our meatballs are made from scratch. They are one of our most popular appetizer items. We also make our chips, salsa and guacamole in house.”
Lotties serves Goshen Coffee, roasted in Edwardsville. The restaurant will close for Memorial Day weekend and will reopen Tuesday.
At a glance
- What: Lottie’s Cafe (part of Chef Gutzler’s Butterfly Patio)
- Where: 904 Edwardsville Road in Troy, near Interstate 55 and Illinois 162
- Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 7 a.m. to midnights Fridays and Saturdays. Closed for Memorial Day Weekend; will reopen Tuesday.
- Seating: 64 inside and 16 on sidewalk
- Handicap-accessible: Yes
- Carryouts: Yes
- Catering: Yes
- Gaming machines: Coming soon
- Information: Call 618-505-0622 or the Facebook page for Chef Gutzler’s Butterfly Patio
On the menu
- Chef (Breakfast) Special — Bacon, egg, roasted cherry tomatoes, garlicky spinach and caramelized onions on croissant, $8
- Chef (Sandwich) Special — Seasoned buffalo chicken breast, bacon, mixed cheese and house ranch on garlic bread, $12 with chips
- Club Heaven — Turkey, chicken, roast beef, ham, Italian herb cheese, three-pepper Colby Jack and garlic lemon mayo on croissant, $12 with chips
- House Salad — Strawberries, blueberries and praline pecans with raspberry walnut lime poppy seed vinaigrette, $6
- Italian Mozzarella Wrap — Sauteed roasted red peppers, onions, mushrooms, artichokes and Sriracha basil mayo, $7