Dani Hunnell, owner of the Sleepy Opossum Cafe, says she plans to expand her business to their brick-and-mortar location after nearly three years of partnering with the Royal Music Hall. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

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Dani Hunnell, owner of Rountree businesses Sleepy Opossum Cafe and Box Turtle Creamery, is making moves in the historic neighborhood once again.

Sleepy Opossum will soon move out of The Royal, the bar and music hall, and into its first-ever standalone brick-and-mortar location in the heart of Rountree neighborhood, Hunnell said July 3. The breakfast joint has been operating inside the music hall during the mornings since 2021.

The café, known for its unique twists on traditional morning dishes, will officially make the move two doors down to 1423 E. Cherry St., Ste. 101, at some point in August 2024, Hunnell said. The new location will come with extended hours, as well as a dinner and small cocktail menu.

Sleepy Opossum will be hyper-focused on local and seasonal products, Hunnell said. She plans to buy fresh produce from local farmers, like Springfield Community Gardens and Millsap Farms, for her menu creations. It will be the company's first foray into dinner, as well as the first time it will have a liquor license to serve spirits well into the evening.

“It's going to be mostly local, seasonal dishes,” Hunnell said. The dinner menu “is going to be vegetable heavy.”

It's a double-down effort for Hunnell, who also opened Box Turtle Creamery just up the road in Rountree in late-2023. Hunnell said she felt comfortable signing a lease for the space because her companies are already established in the historic neighborhood's business community.

First standalone location for Sleepy Opossum, three-year lease signed in June

One of the Sleepy Opossum Cafe bakers pulls biscuits from the oven to a small ledge in the miniature kitchen space at their current location. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

Hunnell declined to disclose the total financial investment for the new location, as well as the terms of the rent agreement with the property owner. The business owner said she signed a three-year lease, and she was splitting the renovation costs with the landlord. When the new location opens fulltime, the business owner expects to employ about 8 people.

A full kitchen was added to the building after the past residents, flower company Fluer Floral Studio, moved out late last year, Hunnell said. The business owner, using a little help from her farmer friends, plans to build out a small garden in the lot behind the building that will house Sleepy Opossum.

The garden is “just going to be, like, easier stuff that I need more consistently,” Hunnell said. “I'll get the main stuff from the farmers and then get little things out of my garden.”

Sleepy Opossum Cafe will move to the former Floral studio in the Pickwick neighborhood at 1423 E. Cherry St. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

The property that will be the future home of Sleepy Opossum spans from 1411 E. Cherry, an outdoor lot leased by the Sicilian street food truck, Bedda Matri, all the way to 1427 E. Cherry, which houses Skully's Ramen and The Royal.

The property is owned by Pickwick and Cherry, LLC, and had a total market value of more than $713,000, according to the Greene County Assessor's Office records. Pickwick and Cherry, LLC, is owned by Kim Chaffin of Springfield, according to Missouri Secretary of State records.

Keeping its connection to The Royal, Rountree neighborhood strong

Dani Hunnell, owner of the Sleepy Opossum Cafe, says the new space will have a larger kitchen, allowing her to add menu items, employees, and a garden to the back of the new space. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

Though Sleepy Opossum is moving out of The Royal, the two businesses will still be connected, Hunnell said. The Royal is designing the small cocktail menu that the restaurant will feature in the evenings. The restaurant will be open for breakfast, close down during lunchtime, and then reopen in the early-evenings to cater to a dinner and cocktail crowd.

Currently, Sleepy Opossum Cafe, the Royal Music Hall, and Skully's Ramen are located at 1427 E. Cherry St. in Springfield's Pickwick neighborhood. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

The café will be open somewhat late for Rountree neighborhood, Hunnell said, ensuring a place to get drinks for residents past the typical restaurant hours. The hours of operation are still being hashed out, but moving to a standalone brick-and-mortar location will allow the Opossum to cater to new evening crowds and still be open for its breakfast regulars in the morning.

Sleepy Opossum is “still not going to be doing your typical breakfast stuff,” Hunnell said, commenting on keeping the unique breakfast menu spirit alive with the new establishment. “No pancakes.”

Ryan Collins

Ryan Collins is the business and economic development reporter for the Hauxeda. Collins graduated from Glendale High School in 2011 before studying journalism and economics at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He previously worked for Bloomberg News. Contact him at (417) 849-2570 or rcollins@hauxeda.com. More by Ryan Collins