By Wally Kennedy
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Expect to see a lot of activity on South Main Street in the days ahead.
The arrival of some heavy machinery on the west side of the 2400 block of South Main Street could signal that work is about to begin on El Vaquero, a Mexican restaurant that has quite a following in Joplin.
I have been told by those in the know that the owner, Gerardo “Francisco’’ Villasenor, is shopping for a contractor to rebuild the restaurant.
A spokesman for Francisco told me on Friday: “Nobody wants to see El Vaquero come back to Joplin more than Francisco and his brother.’’
A retail building will be going up where the Take-A-Way Cafe once stood at 2217 S. Main St. It will have space for three tenants. A contract on that property recently closed.
The Capri Motel at 34th Street and Hearnes Boulevard was not hit by the tornado, but it sure looks like it was. The vacant motel recently was used as a place for a training exercise by Joplin’s SWAT team, and police and fire departments. The motel could be coming down in two weeks or so.
The Pizza Inn, 3011 S. Main St., will be coming down in a month or so. It, too, will be used for training exercises before it bites the dust. The whole block eventually will be cleared to make way for a new shopping center.
The lack of activity in the tornado zone along South Main Street was starting to wear thin. Now, just the opposite is happening.
The Shoe Department at Northpark Mall will move into an expanded storefront across from the Macy’s Women’s store early next month.
The business had been in that area of the mall across from the Pretzel Place in a smaller storefront before it relocated to a temporary site near Old Navy. That move happened the week after Black Friday. While it was at the temporary site, work was being to done to increase the size of the old site from 6,000 square feet to more than 13,000 square feet.
The name of the new store, which is quite appropriate, will be Shoe Department Encore.
It’s not clear yet how the proposed $1.2 billion merger of Office Depot and OfficeMax will affect the stores that operate in Joplin.
OfficeMax has a storefront in North Point Center at Seventh Street and Range Line Road. Office Depot has a stand-alone building at 32nd Street and Range Line Road. It’s likely one of them will close.
What I found amusing was an Associated Press report about the merger that said the office-supply sector is suffering from a decline in demand for “secular office products like paper, pens and ink.’’
Huh? I know technological advances are changing the way we do business, but if it’s not put down in writing, is it really real? I don’t think so.
Calls to company spokeswomen were not returned last week. Details to come.
Goodwill to open
The grand opening of the Goodwill store, 2102 S. Range Line Road, will take place on Thursday. Festivities will begin with a ribbon-cutting at 8:45 a.m. The doors will open at 9 a.m. Some lucky shoppers will walk away with prizes.
The store and its donation center will be open from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Some readers of last week’s column thought that Mister C’s, 1708 S. Main St., was closing because the property has been listed for sale.
“We are not selling out,’’ said Steve Cress, an owner. “If the property should sell, we’ll move somewhere else.’’
Anyone who knows anything about the Cress family would understand that. The family has been in business in Joplin, in some form, for more than 75 years, including restaurants at Seventh Street and Maiden Lane, 27th and Main streets, and 32nd and Main streets.
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.