Commander's Grill honors city's hero

Commander’s Grill owner Mike Reeder poses in his restaurant on the square in downtown Boonville. The restaurant and memorabilia recognize Commander Ralph D. Weyerhacher, a Boonvillle native cedited as the designer and builder as the U.S.S. Shenandoah zeppelin in the 1920s.

Jessica Squires | Warrick Publishing

When Mike Reeder decided to open a restaurant he knew one thing—the food would be good.

Reeder and his wife Julie opened the Commander’s Grill located in Boonville’s square on Locust Street in March and compiled a menu made up of sandwiches with steaks and pork chops on weekends.

He said the grill uses fresh ingredients with the intent of serving the community a good product.

“I just want to serve great food,” he said. “The food is just stuff I like to eat.”

In fact, Reeder said The Salad uses a dressing taken straight from his childhood. He said the recipe is based on a recipe used in a restaurant he visited in his hometown in southern Illinois.

“It’s a salad I grew up eating,” he said. “We replicated it and made it better.”

From southern style fried chicken to hot italian to Japanese inspired flavors, Reeder said he hopes there is something for everyone at Commander’s Grill, including a little history.


Reeder said the grill is named after Boonville native Ralph D. Weyerbacher who is credited as the designer of the Zeppelin Rigid No. 1 for the United States Navy.


Weyerbacher was assigned to duty in the hull division with connection to the repair and building of ships which later included a stint in Germany to study zeppelins. He went on to design and build the first U.S. Zeppelin which took flight on Oct. 2, 1923 on a 1,700 mile trek from Lakehurst, New Jersey to St. Louis, Missouri making a brief detour to fly over the town of Boonville.

Reeder said the restaurant pays tribute the forgotten hero and revives a piece of Boonville’s history.

“No one knew the story anymore,” he said. “It’s one that needed to be told.”

With a concise menu, Reeder said the goal of the restaurant is to provide a variety that is done well.

“We can’t have everything,” he said. “We don’t have the time and we don’t want to.”

In all, Reeder said he feels like the Commander’s Grill is filling a hole in the community. He said the community needs a restaurant like his.

“We like being a part of the community,” he said. “It’s a clean, well-lighted place to eat.”

Despite the fresh design, open kitchen and the history on the walls, Reeder said everything leads back to the food served at the grill. He said the staff likes to be innovative with the menu as well as use really good ingredients.

“It’s all about the food,” he said. “It doesn’t cost that much more to make something better.”

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