A few columns back, I hinted at the possibility that a Range Line restaurant that was blown off the map by the tornado might be looking at the Cabo del Sol restaurant as a new home.
I couldn’t say anything at the time about the identity of the restaurant because a contract on the property had not been signed. The worst thing you can do is announce something is coming and then have to retract it because the deal fell through.
Thankfully, this deal did not fall through — Jim Bob’s Steaks & Ribs is coming back. Steve and Stacy Gamble, the owners, are planning to reopen the restaurant in the Cabo del Sol property on or about Aug. 1. This is going to be welcome news for the fans of Jim Bob’s, a Joplin original.
The new restaurant will tap into the highway market, the hotel market and the potential for overflow from two of Joplin’s best restaurants, the Olive Garden and Cheddar’s. But then again, Jim Bob’s was a successful operation at 2040 S. Range Line Road despite its small parking lot, small bar and awkward layout. It could be that once the Gambles get their game on, they could generate some overflow of their own. I’m just saying.
“We’re fixing it up nice. We’ll have a gigantic bar now. We want this to be a destination place,’’ Steve Gamble said. “We are shooting for Aug. 1. I don’t know whether we will make that date but it’s conceivable we could be done by then.
“You know, there was a time we weren’t sure whether we would come back. We just want to say thank you to the people who stayed with us through this process.’’
Gamble gave a big shout-out to Ron Pence at Arvest Bank for going the extra mile.
“We will employ 95 to 98 percent of the people we had before and we’re hiring a few more,” Gamble said. “Basically, we’re going back to the old days where you could throw peanut shells on the floor, and have some fun with your family.’’
Goodyear to reopen
A while back, I received a call from an elderly woman wanting to know when the Goodyear Auto Service Center, 3021 E. 20th St., was going to reopen. I got the distinct impression that she was a widow and that she did not trust just anybody to work on her car.
I am pleased to report that the service center, which had been in operation at that site for 25 years before the tornado, will have its grand reopening on July 16.
You might ask: Why is the reopening of a small auto service center that only employs nine people such a big deal? Well, with most everything associated with the tornado, there is a back story.
After the tornado struck, the mechanics there tried to salvage as much as they could from their former shop, which had been flattened. But for some of them, it would be too late. Looters had already made off with their tools. What they stole from the mechanics was their ability to make a living.
Rick Newberry, manager of the service center, said he got a call from the president of Goodyear immediately after the tornado.
“He wanted to know what Goodyear could do. I told him my guys were concerned about their jobs,’’ Newberry said. “He told me to tell my guys they had a job no matter what.
“All of our mechanic’s had a tool list. Goodyear paid them for their tools. They cut each one of them a check. They took care of them because they had lost what they made their living with. And they just gave them money.’’
We’re not talking chump change here. We’re talking thousands of dollars. Is it any surprise that all but one of the nine mechanics who worked there before the tornado will be coming back? This once again shows that loyalty is a two-way street.
But wait, there’s more. Newberry tells of how a man walked up to him after the tornado and asked if he could use some help salvaging the tires and materials that were buried under the destroyed shop.
“I said ‘yes.’ He walked away and I thought I would never see him again,’’ said Newberry. “He came back with his wife, daughter and son-in-law with some heavy equipment. They pulled everything off the store so we could get to our tires and the stuff that had been buried. We only lost 40 tires.’’
Newberry said he got a call from the daughter two weeks ago.
“She wants to see what the store looks like now. I hope she can be there for our opening,’’ he said.
The service center will offer some reopening specials for oil changes and tires.
In case you have difficulty reading between the lines, you should know I have the highest regard for competent mechanics. When an elderly woman calls you and asks about her tire shop, that speaks volumes.
Grand Fortuna at the northeast corner of Seventh Street and Range Line Road has closed. Quincy Magoo’s at the northwest corner of Stone’s Corner on North Main Street Road has closed.
These high-profile properties are likely to be reoccupied or redeveloped, so stay tuned.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 623-8598.