The Under Cliff Restaurant in Tipton Ford, has a long history.
Started in 1928, as a general merchandise store and over the years serving as a general store and a popular eating place. In 1982, the Under Cliff burned and sat desolate for several years.
Then, 19 years ago, Mike Winn started an entirely new restaurant.
“My father-in-law owned the land where the restaurant is located. He put up the posts and framed the building and put the rafters on,” Winn said.
At that point, Winn agreed to run the new establishment if his father-in-law would attach an eight-foot kitchen. The kitchen was added and Mike Winn was in business with a new Under Cliff.
As a young man, Winn spent a four-year tour of duty in the Air Force and really fell in love with flying. That love is well established inside the restaurant with artwork, signs and other artifacts about flying. Serving his country was good for Winn and he said this about his military service, “I think everybody ought to go into the service for a while to get structure in their lives.”
After his military service Winn worked in some convenience stores in Joplin. He started a kitchen in one and found he liked to cook. The store with the kitchen was near Missouri Southern and attracted many students wanting a hamburger. The success of his cooking is why he agreed to open the Under Cliff.
Today, he enjoys his restaurant and its unique character. The unique feature is that the back wall is the actual the face of the cliff under which the restaurant sits.
“Everyone has something to say about the cliff wall when they see it for the first time. Women always asks if it’s real. They always go up and touch it,” Winn laughed.
From time to time, Winn’s three children have worked in the restaurant, and he is expecting his daughter to return to the restaurant soon.
Winn has also allowed Shoal Creek Heritage Preservation to use the front lawn of the Under Cliff to place a memorial stone in honor of the Great Tipton Ford Motorcar Wreck. He will host the dedication of the stone on Aug. 5.
His generosity in providing a place for the memorial marker is why Mike Winn is this week’s good neighbor.