The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 30, 2013

Wally Kennedy: M&M Bistro both new and familiar in downtown Joplin

By Wally Kennedy
news@joplinglobe.com

JOPLIN, Mo. — Downtown Joplin has a new — but familiar — restaurant.

The former Arde’s Bistro, 407 S. Main St., reopened last week as M&M Bistro. It is operated by Mehrdad “Jef’’ Alvandi and his wife, Minoo. They are longtime friends of Arde Khaleghi, who closed the bistro and Arde’s Villa in Redings Mill last year when he decided to retire in Tulsa, Okla.

Alvandi, who operated a factory in Malaysia, brought his family to the United States to operate the Mediterranean restaurant and its banquet center.

“I liked this place the first time I saw it. It’s in the downtown,’’ he said. “People are saying they’re happy to see the lights on inside instead of the lights off.’’

Alvandi quickly recognized that his friend, Arde, had developed a workable business plan. Alvandi told me he has decided to continue “Arde’s idea. It’s the same as before.’’

Menu selections and pricing are virtually the same. He also has hired Arde’s skilled chef of 12 years, Juanito R. Magat.

But there are a couple of additions to the menu. One of them is a dessert — creme brulee, a contribution from Minoo. I’m a big fan of creme brulee. I was not disappointed.

Alvandi wants to be part of the revival downtown. In connection with the first Third Thursday two weeks ago, he opened the banquet center to seven artists who participated in the Art Walk. He plans to do that in the future and find other ways to engage with the community.

The bistro will be open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday.

When the bistro closed last year, it left a noticeable void in the mix of downtown eateries. Having it back the way it was means we didn’t give up something to get something else. We got back something we liked. That’s a good thing.

TAX HELP

With two weeks to go until the April 15 tax filing deadline, the IRS wants everyone to know free tax return preparation is again available at a storefront inside the main entrance to Northpark Mall. This is the 15th year for the VITA site.

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program offers free tax help generally to people who earn $51,000 or less.

Through April 15, the site will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The site will have extended hours on Thursday when it stays open to 7 p.m. No appointment is necessary.

Taxpayers need photo identification, valid Social Security cards for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents, and the individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) assignment letter for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents, if applicable.

Also needed will be birth dates for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents, wage and earnings statements from all employers, interest and dividend statements from banks, and a copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available.

You also will need proof of bank or credit union routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit.

Trained and certified community volunteers can help eligible taxpayers claim valuable credits and deductions, such as the child tax credit or the credit for the elderly. Many people may also get assistance in claiming the earned income tax credit, which is a significant financial boost to low- and moderate-income workers.

THE CAPRI SIGN

When the decision was made to tear down the Capri Motel, there was talk of preserving its iconic sign. But it wasn’t until the last month or so that a plan was devised to save it.

Brian Spencer, with the Spencer Car Co. and salvage yard on West Seventh Street, said he went to Countryside Flowers, south of the motel to buy some flowers on Valentine’s Day.

“I told the guy behind the counter that I would give anything to get that sign,’’ said Spencer. “He told me that a guy who worked for the company that bought the motel had just been in the flower shop 15 minutes before. He said the guy was trying to find someone to preserve the sign. I got his number and now I’ve got the sign.’’

The sign is being taken down in pieces. Each piece is being numbered to eventually resurrect the sign on Spencer’s property along West Seventh Street.



If you have news about something happening on Range Line Road or Main Street, dial 417-623-3480, ext. 7250; or send an email to wkennedy@joplinglobe.com; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 417-623-8598.