The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 5, 2012

Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Once-popular Pittsburg eatery will return this fall

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Bamboo is back.

Or rather, almost.

The once-popular Pittsburg eatery had humble beginnings in the former Hudson’s hamburger joint at 14th Street and Broadway. The Kim family opened the restaurant, called Bamboo Dragon, in July 1985. They had, as I recall, just two tables.

Having not been exposed to much Chinese food until then, our family thought it was quite exotic to stop in for takeout orders of cashew chicken and crab rangoon. The Kims would move and expand a few times, but they left Pittsburg in June 2009 to open restaurants in Carl Junction and Webb City.

Excited doesn’t begin to describe the reaction when Pittsburg fans learned that Bamboo is coming back to this side of the state line. Owner Joe Kim said a Bamboo Pittsburg Facebook page generated more than 300 “likes” in less than 24 hours of its creation. By the time I began this column, the page had 515.

Likewise, my own posts on Facebook announcing its return generated dozens of “likes” and comments wanting to know when and where.

“We were shocked,” Kim said of the response. “But we have known it was time to go back; that’s where it all started.”

So here’s the scoop: It will open this fall at 808 N. Broadway, a property the family has owned for many years. Locals will remember it as the location of the former Hunan House restaurant.

Demolition work is under way, and construction will begin soon. The building’s interior was torn out to the original brick walls.

The menu will offer the old favorites: cashew chicken, lemon chicken and Bamboo chicken.

But Kim said the restaurant has developed new items, and has focused on upping the health value of Chinese food with lettuce wraps and whole-grain brown rice, 100 percent hormone-free and steroid-free chicken breast, a very lean beef strip steak, and a thinly sliced center cut pork loin.

As with the two other Bamboo locations, the restaurant will focus primarily on takeout and delivery.

The family has come a long way since that one small building at the corner of 14th Street and Broadway: Last week in Carl Junction, the restaurant kicked off the use of iPads and iPods with which employees take orders — completely replacing the cash register and hand-writing of tickets.

The same is planned in Webb City and Pittsburg, Kim said.

If the buzz on Facebook is any indication, those iPads and iPods will get a workout here this fall.

Follow Andra Stefanoni @AndraStefanoni on Twitter or at Facebook/andrajournalist.

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