The news can be so depressing these days. It's hard to find things to be upbeat about. Sometimes it's the little things that can make all the difference.
Here's an example: I have a friend who has had great luck this summer growing tomatoes. She's truly jubilant about it. Thank goodness for those tomatoes because they are the only thing she is upbeat about right now.
So when something really cool happens in our community, especially during this pandemic, it's a big deal. The recent opening of the Chaos Brewing Co., 112 S. Main St., is something to be upbeat about.
I recently visited the craft brewery on a Saturday night. I parked in the lot behind the bar and entered through the back doors. The place was hopping with activity, but people were wearing masks and doing a good job of distancing. As long as you do those things in public, you are doing about the best you can to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus. Free masks were available at the door.
I ordered a Kaos pale ale for $6. It had a little body to it, but it was so refreshing. Other brews on tap are the Margarita Blonde, Aspirant (kolsch), Bearded Brewista (hazelnut coffee milk stout), Gekkenhuis (farmhouse with raspberries) and Blackout (a black IPA). If you don't like those choices, you can order a glass of wine or a mixed drink. The bar manager is Daniel Valentine, one of the best mixers in town.
The brewery does not serve food, but you can order from Hubba's Hideout Taco and Tiki Bar, 106 S. Main St., or from Blackthorn Pizza & Pub, 510 S. Joplin Ave., for delivery to the taproom. The restaurants have copies of their menus in the brewery. The tables in the brewery are widely spaced for appropriate distancing. While I was there, people were playing table games and eating pizza.
The opening has had a significant impact on Hubba's Hideout, according to an employee who works there.
"That first night, it was crazy,'' she said. "People were waiting in line here and at the brewery.''
I have had pizza at Blackthorn and tacos at Hubba's, and I would recommend both. In fact, I think the tacos at Hubba's are among the best in town and a great value at that. Hubba's, it should be noted, recently had the Main Street side of its storefront painted to let everyone know that there is a tiki bar inside. You can't miss the artwork by Kris Markovich.
This past week, the brewery was open from 5 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, 3 p.m. to midnight Friday, and noon to midnight Saturday.
Make a date to check this place out. You'll be glad you did.
I am sorry to report that Infuxn Kitchen & Cocktails, 530 S. Main St., has closed. The owner posted this message on the bar's Facebook page in early May: "Since opening in 2015, I’ve learned that the bar and restaurant business is one of the toughest industries out there. It takes a lot of hard work, time, energy, money, grit, determination, persistence and heart to make it work. There are times when you’re on the bottom, there are times when you’re on top, and then there are times when you’re hit with a pandemic and life as we know it suddenly stops.''
Infuxn was a great place to get a cocktail, but it's the food that I will miss. The home-schooled cook there, Coleen Wilson, was one of the best in town. You could get specialty dishes there — like borscht, crab cakes and beef stroganoff — that were awesome.
With the recent closing of Instant Karma, which was located across the street from Infuxn, the 500 block of South Main Street has become a lot less interesting. In fact, the shuttering of storefronts downtown, and across the city in general, is becoming more evident. You can thank COVID-19 for creating an atmosphere where it is virtually impossible for a small retail business to maintain operations. If this trend continues, it does not bode well for our local economy.
One to watch
Bed Bath & Beyond recently announced plans to close roughly 200 stores in the next two years. No word yet on whether the closings, which will start later this year, will affect the Joplin store located at 409 S. Geneva Ave. in North Park Crossing.
The retail chain operated a total of 1,478 stores, including 955 Bed Bath & Beyond stores, as of May 31. The company closed 21 Bed Bath & Beyond stores during the first quarter, which ended May 31.
The permanent store closures are a part of Bed Bath & Beyond's restructuring plan to help "rebuild and grow the business" in response to the impact of COVID-19. The company's president in a statement said, "We believe Bed Bath & Beyond will emerge from this crisis even stronger, given the strength of our brand, our people and our balance sheet."
If you have news about something that’s happening on Range Line Road or Main Street, call 417-623-3480, ext. 7250; or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 417-623-8598.