I have been doing this for a long time, but I still get a thrill out of visiting a new restaurant, especially one that serves oysters.

Jefferson's Restaurant, 430 S. Geneva Ave., opened last Monday after a weekend soft opening for friends and family of employees. This restaurant is located where Buffalo Wild Wings used to be in the North Park Crossing shopping center. Buffalo Wild Wings reopened in 2017 in a new location at 1525 S. Range Line Road.

I visited Jefferson's on Tuesday night with a friend. Donning our face masks, we were seated at a table that was appropriately spaced for social distancing. The server was so patient with us as we asked questions about the menu. I would suggest you go online and look at the menu at jeffersons.com before you go. The restaurant offers a complete lineup of pub grub choices, some of which reflect a Cajun flare because the Jefferson's chain originated in the South.

Jefferson's offers appetizers, both traditional and boneless wings, a dozen burger choices, sandwiches, chicken tenders, salads, wraps, seafood and, of course, oysters. There's a full bar. Happy hour ends at 6 p.m.

Jefferson's offers four types of oysters — raw, Cajun, baked and Oysters Rockefeller. You can order a half-dozen or a dozen for $2 each, based on market pricing. You get crackers, lemon, cocktail sauce and horseradish with your oysters.

I ordered a half-dozen Oysters Rockefeller. They were topped with a blend of spinach and artichokes, bacon and Parmesan cheese. I topped each with a dash of horseradish. These were some of the best oysters I have ever had. I shared one with my friend, who does not like oysters. She was so impressed I had to share another one. I'm all for sharing, but sometimes, you know, it can get out of hand.

This dish dates to 1899 in New Orleans, where chef Jules Alciatore baked gulf oysters in a green sauce with bread crumbs. The green, probably watercress then and not the spinach we use today, gave the dish the color of greenbacks. Because of its richness, it was only natural to name it Oysters Rockefeller after John D. Rockefeller, who at that time was the wealthiest man in America.

Alciatore was a pioneer in cooking oysters. Before then, you ate oysters raw with lemon juice or hot sauce.

You might be thinking: "Now, Wally, you do know you are eating oysters out of season?'' Growing up, I was told you should only eat oysters and shrimp in the eight months of the year that contain the letter "R'' in the name. That means May through August are off limits. Why was that? Well, the warm months are when oysters reproduce, and they are not as tasty during those months.

That advice does not apply anymore. Oysters are farmed and harvested year-round now, and there is far more accountability to protect consumers, including water-quality monitoring for bacteria and pollution. The United States is so strict about oyster safety that oysters cannot be imported from the European Union because the guidelines there are not as strict.

The oysters served at the Jefferson's in Joplin are imported from the East Coast, where cold-water farming is practiced. Oysters must be refrigerated the moment they come out of the water, and they must stay refrigerated all the way to your plate.

We also ordered six boneless wings in a garlic-Buffalo sauce, onion rings, a shrimp po' boy sandwich on a fresh hoagie bun and some sweet potato fries. It was all good. Our total bill with drinks came to about $37. The next time, I plan to try the baked oysters. They are topped with Parmesan cheese, butter and black pepper.

By the way, the manager of this restaurant told me that Jefferson's is doing something unusual with this location — they are opening without a local franchisee. If you are interested in becoming a franchisee, contact the company.

One last thing: It was great to see parents wearing face masks and requiring their children to wear them until they were seated. There's nothing like being a good role model. There is some risk, but you can safely visit a restaurant if you wear a mask and social distance. Saw my first political mask while in the restaurant. It was black with white letters: "Trump 2020.'' I wonder what the opposition will come up with. How about: "Just Biden My Time.'' I predict the next 100 days will be fun to watch.

Another closing

I am sad to report the closing of yet another restaurant due to the COVID-19 pandemic. East Buffet Sushi and Hibachi, 501 S. Madison St., has closed.

This popular Webb City restaurant tried to reopen a couple of weeks ago, but there was not enough business to sustain operations.

A sign says the 8,300-square-foot property is available for lease in the City Pointe shopping center.

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 wkennedy@joplinglobe.com; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 417-623-8598.

Wally Kennedy is a reporter and columnist for The Joplin Globe.