By Wally Kennedy
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
This sounds like it could be fun — fondue and martinis.
A new restaurant, The Far Side of the Moon Fondue & Martini Bar, is under construction in a storefront at 106 S. Main St. It’s next door to Bruce’s Point of View Optical.
It’s being opened by Jon Buck, who runs JB’s Piano Bar and Event Center at 112 S. Main St. Buck hopes to open by the Third Thursday downtown event in May.
Buck has spiffed up the front of the building with new paint and lights that improve security and the overall look of the property. The inside has been transformed into a comfortable space. On the back side, a new deck has been constructed.
As far as I know, this could be the only fondue place in town. There’s one in Springfield that is quite successful. Buck wants to emulate that success here.
Buck has been successful. He’s acquiring the JB’s property from Robert Rice, who is opening Palace Pizza at 122 S. Main St., where construction of a new exterior facade began last week.
The new fondue restaurant and JB’s have access to an off-street parking lot at the rear of the properties. That has helped make this area of Main Street a successful place to do business.
Buck also has acquired the old Coglizer Tent & Awning Building at 106 S. Main St., and the Barrett Building just south of it. He plans to create a couple of retail spaces, an event center and a business center.
I had to share with Buck my first experience with fondue. It was on a trip to visit friends in Kansas City. Fondue was the hip new thing to do. We used wooden sticks to dip cubes of bread and ham into a white wine and cheese sauce. After we dined, we went and saw Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” on the big screen. That was in 1968.
I was told that fondue originated in Sweden, which at the time made it even more exotic. It actually comes from an area where Switzerland, France and Italy meet. That would make sense with so much wine and cheese there.
Didn’t get a chance to ask Buck how he came up with the Far Side of the Moon, which you never see from Earth. Do not confuse the name with “Dark Side of the Moon.’’ That would be Pink Floyd.
Fondue, martinis and Pink Floyd — now we’re getting somewhere.
New shopping center
A new shopping center and home for Ernie Williamson Music is coming to the east side of the 900 block of South Range Line Road. Work will begin soon on the demolition of properties behind or east of the existing store to permit construction of the shopping center.
The music store will continue to operate while the new center is being constructed. Once it’s completed, the music store will move into the shopping center and the old store will be torn down.
The 10,000-square-foot center will have three spaces for lease. The contractor is Construction Adventures.
Great to see
On the way into work Friday, I counted eight, maybe nine, pieces of heavy machinery and each of them in different places in the tornado zone along South Main Street. Some were tearing out foundations, some were preparing the ground for foundations and others were erecting new buildings.
This is very encouraging for the people who regularly travel South Main Street.
It looks like the site for El Vaquero is ready to go. The concrete where Arby’s used to be is being busted up. New steel is going up where the Take-A-Way Cafe was. The Cuttaway Salon and the new carwash across the street from it are nearing completion. And finally, it looks like the return of the Alps store is actually “Coming Soon’’ as a sign there has suggested for well more than a year.
Something else I’ve noticed is that the mangled signs are disappearing from South Main Street. I think there may be only one left now where there had been half a dozen or more.
The possibility that the city’s redevelopment plan could bring a grocery store to South Main is even more encouraging. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this could be the year when South Main Street turns the corner on recovery.
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 email@example.com; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 623-8598.