The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 10, 2013

Wally Kennedy: You can help pizza restaurant find prime location

By Wally Kennedy
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — The contract has been signed.

Now the hard part begins.

Brian and Tracy Myers, of Joplin, have signed a contract to bring a Ye Olde King Pizza to Joplin. This style of pizza was the forerunner for what eventually would become Joplin’s signature pizza restaurant, Pizza by Stout. That restaurant at 2101 S. Range Line Road was destroyed by the tornado.

Brian and Tracy thought they had located the perfect site for their venture, but it was not quite what they were anticipating after they stirred the pot, so to speak.

“The business is on its way. The big question is: Where?’’ Brian said. “Ye Olde King Pizza in Fayetteville (Ark.), is not big. It’s not small, either. It’s kind of simple, and they do great business.’’

Here’s where you can help: We need to find a modest castle for Ye Olde King Pizza somewhere in Joplin. It should be centrally located with decent visibility and sufficient parking.

Know of a place that might fit the bill? If so, give Brian a call at 417-291-8681. He’s open to all suggestions.

I visited with Brian for 30 minutes or so last week about potential sites. And then it dawned on me — finding a place to start a business in Joplin right now is not as easy as one might think. The tornado hit both Range Line Road and Main Street, which are Joplin’s primary commercial corridors.

These are troubling times in the kingdom.

A place along East 20th Street, not far from the new high school and the new library, would be ideal. But it’s pretty much vacant land right now. It would be somewhat ironic if that were to happen since the original King Pizza was in a small shopping center near 20th Street and New Hampshire Avenue, if my memory serves me correctly.

Let me give you some key points from our discussion. The former Wok’ N Roll at Seventh Street and Wall Avenue is nice, but it’s too large. Columbia Traders, 420 S. Main St., would be perfect, but it needs a little more parking.

Online chatter has encouraged Brian and Tracy to look at something on Main Street as opposed to Range Line. I think that’s probably good advice, but I have a bias for Main Street.  

The question is: Where would you put it?

That red door

I have always had a fondness for things that flirt with the whimsical side of life, things that show imagination, flair and creativity.

What I’m talking about is the new red door at Caldone’s, 218 S. Main St. It’s designed to look like an old London phone booth.

Donnie Bennett, the owner, said the door is helping customers find his restaurant.

“People would ask: ‘Where are you located?’ When I told them we’re located in the middle of the block, they couldn’t find it,’’ he said. “Now I say, ‘Look for the big red phone booth.’ They find it.’’

The door serves more than one purpose. There was quite a draft coming through the old door to the upstairs. A new, airtight door was needed. What Bennett has done upstairs is create a 1920s speakeasy atmosphere with private dining for up to 50 people. To get into this speakeasy, you’ll need a password to enter through that red phone booth.

He plans to put an old phone inside of the door. If it rings, surely someone would answer and say: “London calling.’’

See what I’m saying? With a little imagination, you can have a lot of fun.

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