When Dr. Michael Joseph decided to buy the Pizza by Stout property at 2101 S. Range Line Road, he had no plans for it.
"I thought it was the best piece left on Range Line between 15th Street and 32nd Street that's not blocked by a median,'' said Joseph, a Joplin businessman who owns several commercial properties. "It's supply and demand. I had nothing planned for the property.''
Well, apparently someone wants to do something with the property. Joseph has already had three inquiries, two from Springfield and one from Kansas City, about locating a national franchise restaurant there. It's too early to say who's interested.
Pizza by Stout, one of the most popular pizza restaurants to ever operate in Joplin, was destroyed by the 2011 tornado. It was not open that fateful Sunday night. The property, which had been on the market since then, has been used as a storage area to hold new cars for Fletcher Toyota.
The former Taco Hut property directly west of Pizza by Stout is now one of the last undeveloped properties in the Range Line portion of the tornado zone.
New name, better location
WorkFresh is now The Fresh Meal Co. It is has moved from a storefront on East Seventh Street to a place with a much higher profile at 1520 S. Main St.
The company, developed by Joplin businessman Jon Buck more than a year ago, specializes in grab and go meals that are tasty and nutritional. You select a meal from the cooler, pop it in a microwave for the recommended time and out comes a hot dish made with fresh ingredients.
So what's on the menu? There's beef and broccoli, a Buffalo chicken bowl, chicken parma rosa, Mama's turkey loaf, spicy mango pork and honey Sriracha chicken, to name a few. I think there are a dozen dinner choices. There are some paleo, low-carb and keto meals, and some choices for breakfast. Most of the dinner meals cost $6.99 each. You get a free bottle of water with each meal. You can buy five meals for $30. Each meal has a refrigerated shelf-life of about seven days.
Selena Tate, who was managing the shop when I visited it last week, said the new storefront is set up differently than the old storefront, and that has improved business.
"This place has a much higher profile. We're seeing a lot more traffic. That's why we don't have as many choices as usual,'' she said. "We cook all our food. It's made fresh daily. It's for people who need to eat healthy.''
The meals are being prepared at the Roxy event center in downtown Joplin. Soon, the meals will be prepared in the new location at 1520 S. Main St. The meals can be ordered online. Google The Fresh Meal Co. for the full menu and details. The meals also are available in some local gyms and might soon be available by delivery.
Store hours are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Want to have some fun and get some relief from all of that endless tension in the daily grind that is your life? Well, you could try ax throwing.
You read it right. El Gaupo's Cigar and Pipe Lounge, 532 S. Joplin Ave., has set aside a nonsmoking area on its second floor that is dedicated to ax throwing. There are five lanes for throwing. At the end of the lane is a bull's-eye target with concentric circles. Like a dart game, you score points. The axes weigh about 1 to 2 1/2 pounds each, so they do some damage.
"The target boards last about a week. The lumber yards are seeing a lot of me,'' said Alex Menejias, owner of El Gaupo's.
The ax throwing takes place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. It costs $20 for an hour. For details, dial 417-825-7700. About 600 people have tried their hand at ax throwing since the opening of El Gaupo's House of Axe in February. About 60 percent of the throwers are men.
"It makes for a great date night,'' said Menejias. Talk about burying the hatchet.
So picture this: A bunch of men and women are having mixed drinks and throwing axes. That seems to me like it could be the perfect recipe for trouble. Menejias said he is all about safety and that the ax lanes are patrolled by a floor monitor. You get axed — from playing — if you have had too much to drink.
El Gaupo's is a fascinating story. It was started a few years ago by Menejias as a lounge where mostly men could buy and smoke quality cigars and have a drink. It's first location was a small storefront at 1409 S. Main St. It moved to 136 S. Main St. before occupying the old Robert's Cafeteria/Maxwell's property. When Menejias took over, he had his hands full. He has put a lot of effort into this historic property. It now boasts an indoor golf simulator and a walk-in humidor with 130 cigar brands.