Even when it’s not your plan, it’s exciting to see a well-executed plan come together — especially when it involves macaroni and cheese.

Sherif Magd, the creator of MacCheesy, a new gourmet mac and cheese restaurant that opened last week, is on to something that could change the comfort food market in Joplin. This stuff warms your soul. It’s that good.

MacCheesy, 116 N. Range Line Road, is located directly west of Northpark Mall in the Bayberry Square Shopping Center. I visited the place on Wednesday. I placed my order at the counter after looking over about 17 “classic’’ choices. As examples, you could order lobster mac for $14.99, taco mac for $8.99 or the traditional mac for $6.99. Or you can build your own mac and cheese from a list of ingredients. It is served in cast-iron skillets. You can get a regular or large version.

I ordered a cheeseburger mac because the young woman behind the counter recommended it. It was $7.99 for the regular size. The large version, which feeds two to three people, costs $13.99. It comes with flame-grilled burger, American and cheddar cheese, and shoestring potatoes and pickles on top. The regular skillet looks small, but it is piled high with ingredients. There was easily enough food to feed two people. The neat thing about the use of cast-iron skillets is that they keep the mac and cheese steaming hot for a long time.   

Magd insisted that I sample the chicken, bacon and ranch mac, and the taco mac. I thought he was preparing a bite-sized sample. These were full-blown versions to go. So I sampled them and took the leftovers to the newsroom, where they vanished to favorable reviews. After trying three of the classics, I would have to put the chicken, bacon and ranch mac at the top of the list.

I think this place could really make its mark this fall with its take-and-bake selections and delivery for football season. This is made-to-order for that. You certainly would be the hit of the party. To order something to go, call 417-691-8256.

MacCheesy is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.

Sad but true

When I heard that Cupcakes by Liz is closing on Saturday, it made me sad. This was a fun place to visit and get a cupcake that was nothing short of sinful.

Liz Easton, the owner, told me she is folding her apron. The shop, at 2310 S. Main St., will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. She is selling everything in the store, including some antiques.

“I want to take some time to enjoy my kids and my family,” she said. 

Good for her.

A new tenant will soon take over the stylish storefront. No word yet on what is coming.

The reworking of Main Street, she said, had no impact on her decision to retire.

“We were worried at first, but it has had no impact. The workers took good care of us,” she said. “It needs to be done.”

There was a time when Cupcakes by Liz and Dude’s Daylight Donuts were the only functioning businesses to return to South Main Street after the tornado. It took a lot of courage for Easton to start over from scratch. She reopened her shop a year after the tornado. The reopening was featured in an NBC News segment about Joplin’s recovery. She was interviewed by Chelsea Clinton.

“She came back to visit two more times,” Easton said. “She liked the gluten-free stuff. She was lovely.”

Clinton first visited Joplin on assignment with NBC in April 2012, talking to the students, staff and vendors who were preparing for the high school’s prom. It was there that she met Easton, who had donated 1,500 cupcakes for the event.

“So many people told us: ‘Liz rebuilding really tells us we can rebuild too,’” Clinton said. “We knew we wanted to be here (for the bakery’s reopening).”

At the time, Easton said she hoped her story would send a deeper message about the city’s ability to rebuild.

“It does take a village,” she said. “I believe that, and I believe the experience here in Joplin, holistically and symbolically with Cupcakes by Liz, embodies that.”

Well said.

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