The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 12, 2013

Wally Kennedy: Number of Main Street pizza places dwindles

By Wally Kennedy
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — I need to pay closer attention. When someone says: “They bought the whole block,’’ well, that’s exactly what they meant to say.

The Pizza Inn at 3011 S. Main St. has closed because the property has been purchased to construct a shopping center that is planned for “the whole block’’ on the east side of the 3000 block of South Main Street.

For some reason, I was left with the impression that the Pizza Inn would be spared. Part of the problem was I could never catch anyone to confirm or deny whether the Pizza Inn was part of the larger deal. After the Pizza Inn closed, I contacted the manager of the Pizza Inn in Miami, Okla., who said the Joplin Pizza Inn had closed and was not coming back.

He said some consideration was given to finding a new site for the restaurant in Joplin, but that ultimately the company preferred a site in Oklahoma City, Okla.

So this means there are only a couple of places now on South Main Street where you can sit down and eat pizza. That would be at the Schlotzsky’s at 32nd and Main streets and at Mohaska Farmhouse at 18th and Main streets. You used to be able to sit down and eat pizza at the Pizza Hut at 28th and Main streets. But it’s delivery-only now. Too bad for Pizza Hut. It could have capitalized on the closure of the Pizza Inn.

This creates an opportunity for someone to fill a niche. Maybe someone will open a new pizza joint in the new shopping center. Maybe we’ll get a signature pizza place again like Pizza By Stout. I know that’s wishful thinking, but somebody’s got to do it.

As for the shopping center, the plans were to go before the City Council last week. At the last minute, it was pulled from the agenda so that a new “plaza-like’’ design could be proposed. I find this interesting. A design is proposed and then someone decides there might be a better way. This, I think, is a good thing and one that hopefully happens frequently as Joplin rebuilds itself. Can we make it function better? Can we make it look better? If a lot of people are asking those questions, the result might surprise us.

In the meantime, there is some consolation for the loss of the Pizza Inn. A new Cici’s Pizza will likely open in mid-February in a new building at the southwest corner of 16th Street and Range Line Road. The parking lot has been paved. It can’t be long now. I predict a big opening. Details to come.

New sandwich shop

A sandwich shop, Stacked Gourmet Grilled Sandwiches, will be a tenant in a new shopping center at 3022 S. Main St.

The shopping center is being built on the footprint, more or less, of the former Southtown Bait Shop. It could have as many as four storefronts.

Jason Wallace, the owner of Stacked Gourmet, said the shop will specialize in 13 to 15 warm sandwiches, plus a handful of sides and salads.

“We’ll have different things you don’t see around here. We’ll have amazingly big sandwiches with all kinds of weird stuff on them,’’ he said. “And we’ll have some of the standards, too.’’

Wallace said he likes meat on his sandwiches but that the shop’s vegetarian sandwich is his favorite. He has been meeting with food suppliers in search of particular products and plans to offer a selection of local beers.

The restaurant will have a soft opening sometime in April or May.

Wallace, a Joplin native, knows the importance of making a good first impression.

“In this town, you get one chance,’’ he said. “We want our staff trained and ready to go.’’

Freddy’s update

Whenever you see those little orange flags appear on a piece of empty ground, it’s a sure sign that something is about to be constructed.

That’s the case with the old Ford dealership at 30th Street and Range Line Road. Ground has been broken for the new Freddy’s Steakburgers. Expect an opening in a few months.

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