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Chris Schillinger (owner) was once a waiter in a bad restaurant 30,000 feet above the earth. As a flight attendant for TWA and later American Airlines, Chris sometimes brought his own barbecue on the plane to help get him through his long flights across the country. But like hundreds of his fellow employees, Chris lost his job when two airlines merged. Grounded, he pondered his future from the farm he owned at Roselle. Then an opportunity crossed his path, and he jumped at the chance to do something he loved for a living. Chris bought the old Mimosa Drive-In, a landmark in Ironton since it was built in 1962. While the Mimosa sign still towers above the unique structure, a new sign advertising Baylee Jo's BBQ and Seafood Grill greets travelers on Highway 21. "I always liked cooking at home," Chris says. "I used to smoke meat all the time. No one I worked with is surprised at what I'm doing." Chris renamed the historic diner after his 5- year old daughter, Baylee Jo. As a flight attendant, he was forced to leave the little girl behind while on duty. Now when school is out, she is a nearly permanent fixture at the restaurant. If the mood strikes her, Baylee Jo entertains diners by perching on the counter and singing. Where once a steady stream of locals and tourists alike frequented the diner for hamburgers, hot dogs and soft-sere ice cream, today's visitors to Ironton are in for a far different treat. Outside the restaurant, stacks of cherry wood wait their turn to slow-smoke meats in the restaurant's custom-made grill. "Wild cherry, that's my signature," says Chris. Even the homemade barbecue sauce at Baylee Jo's has a hint of cherry flavoring. The sweet taste of cherry is just one of many unique things Chris does to make his diner a notch above the competition. You'll find all the fare you would expect at a barbecue joint, including ribs, chicken, pork steak and sliced beef. The best seller is the Baylee Jo Special, tender pulled pork on grilled sandwich bread. What sets Baylee Jo's apart is the unusual extras on the menu. For example, his baked beans, a staple at any barbecue joint, are packed with rib-tips parts. All of the side dishes are homemade to Chris' specifications. His slaw is a sweet vinegar dish, while his barbecue cornbread is a meal by itself. Starting with a slightly sweet cornbread, Chris adds pulled pork, jalapenos, corn and cheese, then tops a big piece of it with more barbecue and his sauce. " I made that recipe up the night before I opened the restaurant," Chris says. Chris says his patrons are often surprised to find fresh Gulf shrimp on the menu. He offers the jumbo shrimp three ways: grilled, fried, and boiled. The grilled shrimp is an experience you're sure to add to your list of barbecue favorites. OUT OF THE WAY EATS Rural Missouri's guide to the restaurants that truly define "dining worth the drive" in the Show-Me-State