By Wally Kennedy
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is coming back to Joplin. Ground for the new restaurant was broken last week at the northwest corner of 22nd Street and Range Line Road. This site was previously occupied by an Arby’s.
The target date for opening is June 8.
Over the years, Popeyes has had a presence on Main Street and Range Line. The site where Hunan Garden is today — 2830 S. Main — was once a Popeyes. The original building featured black lava rock on the outside. It was so ugly. A fire destroyed that building a few years ago. Hunan Garden rebuilt, creating a structure that was far more attractive than the original building.
I have it on good authority that lava rock will not be used in the construction of the new Popeyes.
Here’s a little background on Popeyes. It’s a chain of fried chicken fast food restaurants founded in 1972 in Arabi, La., a suburb of New Orleans in St. Bernard Parish. According to a company press release, Popeyes is the second-largest “quick-service chicken restaurant group, measured by number of units,’’ with more than 1,800 restaurants in more than 40 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 21 countries worldwide.
The developer of the chain, Al Copeland, claimed he named the stores after the fictional detective Jimmy “Popeye’’ Doyle in the movie The French Connection and not the comic character, Popeye the Sailor. The chain later acquired rights to use Popeye the Sailor for marketing. Last November, the company announced the mutual termination of a licensing contract with King Features Syndicate, effectively ending its association with the Popeye character.
Notice how there is no apostrophe in Popeyes. Copeland would claim that he was “too poor’’ to afford an apostrophe. Copeland could certainly afford an apostrophe. Beginning in 1976, franchising would create about 500 outlets within 10 years.
Third Thursday returns this week. A nice touch this year will be a bicycle parking lot in front of Joplin City Hall at Sixth and Main streets.
The parking lot for bicycles will be manned by people from Spokes and Spandex, which operates in an old warehouse-type building at 215 Commercial Alley. It’s a couple of blocks east of City Hall.
Steve Cooper, with Spokes and Spandex, a downtown merchant for 8 1/2 years, said, “We’ll block off an area and man it. It will be a secure place for someone to leave their bicycle during Third Thursday.’’
Finding a place to park during Third Thursday can be a challenge, especially if the weather is favorable. Creating a space where a family could ride bicycles to Third Thursday could help alleviate that parking problem and create an opportunity for a family to do something fun together.
There is no charge. While you are playing at Third Thursday, the Spokes and Spandex people will do safety checks and answer questions about cycling.
I’m hoping that Third Thursday has another successful year. For me, it was the best when it was simply the art walk and the food vendors downtown.
Kids of all ages may visit and have their photos snapped with the Easter Bunny in the J.C. Penney court at Northpark Mall.
“There’s no better way to get ready for spring than a fantastic photo with our huggable Bunny,’’ said Sean Phillips, regional marketing director for CBL & Associates Properties Inc.
The Easter Bunny will be available through Saturday, March 30. Hours will be from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, March 31. Northpark Mall will be closed on Easter Sunday.
All children who visit the Easter Bunny will receive a coloring sheet, with an offer from The Children’s Place and a free kid’s meal offer from Garfield’s Restaurant.
Visits with the Easter Bunny are free. Reservations are not required. Professional photo packages start at $21.
If you have news about something that’s happening on Range Line Road or Main Street, dial 623-3480, Ext. 7250; or send an e-mail to email@example.com; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 623-8598.