JOPLIN, Mo. —
For nearly 40 years, a team of Clydesdales pulling a Budweiser wagon was proudly displayed in a glass case behind the bar at Frank’s Lounge, 2112 S. Main St.
The May 22 tornado destroyed the bar and everything inside of it, including 1,500 liquor decanters. For most, the loss would have been overwhelming. But not for Judy Petty.
“It’s been a lot of work to come back, but it can be done. I’m proof of that. I’m 70 years old. If I can do it, anyone can,’’ she said.
Petty hired Farrell Construction, of Neosho, to build a new building, and Ed’s Construction, of Joplin, to construct a new bar and interior. Her team has delivered both inside and outside. There’s a shuffleboard, two pool tables and a jukebox that is loaded with music. Frank’s is bigger and better than ever.
But something was missing. That something arrived on Friday courtesy of Mike McDonald, one of Judy’s longtime friends. Years ago, McDonald asked Judy if he could buy a replica she had of the Clydesdales and Budweiser wagon. Judy would not sell it.
“It just showed up on my doorstep,’’ he said. After the tornado hit, McDonald knew what he had to do.
“I knew I had to bring it down. It had been in the bar forever. It would not be the same bar without it,’’ he said.
On Friday, the horses and wagon were placed in a new glass case behind the bar in preparation for the reopening of the lounge.
“They are where they belong,’’ said Petty, who holds the oldest liquor license in Joplin.
But it doesn’t stop there. The Clydesdales and Budweiser wagon have been recreated in a tile mural that was made by Images in Tile, of Joplin. It’s so striking you can’t miss it when you enter the bar. It’s a fantastic piece. Take special note of the upper right corner where images of Judy and Frank are floating in the clouds.
It would have been easy for Judy to have cashed her insurance check and rode quietly off into the sunset of retirement, but she would have none of that. I would submit to you that Judy Petty, as much as anyone, represents the unbridled spirit of Joplin.
If you visit the bar this week, a respectful tip of your hat is in order.
It looks like a trolley that’s gone off the tracks at 22nd and Main streets. But it’s really a new vendor for freshly-roasted coffee.
“We found it on eBay at Searcy, Ark.,’’ said Christine Cadwell, who is developing the enterprise with Scott Brown. “We haven’t even opened yet and people are already dropping by for coffee.’’
The self-contained unit, which was manufactured by a trolley company in Oregon, was shipped to Joplin on a flatbed trailer and lifted into place with a crane. It’ll be up and running in about two weeks or so. It is sitting on land that once was home to the Cake Emporium and Turn the Page Consignment.
The storefront will have a walk-up window on one side and a drive-through window on the other side. Cadwell plans to serve pastries and sandwiches. Both Cadwell and Brown have gone to a coffee school in Texas to learn how to be a barista. They tried about a dozen coffee brands before picking a company in Tulsa, Okla.
They have named their new business the Off The Track Coffee Co.
The Fastrip convenience store is returning to 2702 S. Main St. Workers were assembling the concrete-block walls this week. Look for an opening in early December.
If you have news about something that’s happening on Range Line Road or Main Street, dial 623-3480, Ext. 7250; or send an email to email@example.com; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 623-8598.