Wally Kennedy: One dining room closes, another opens

·4 min read

Jul. 9—A popular pizza buffet appears to have fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic — which, by the way, is showing no signs of slowing down in our area thanks to the delta variant.

The Pizza Hut restaurant at 1901 S. Range Line Road closed its dining room when the pandemic hit last year. The restaurant continues to prepare pizza for carryout and delivery, an employee told me.

The employee also told me the restaurant is receiving calls from patrons asking about when the dining room and buffet/salad bar would be available again. The answer to that question is not clear. An employee of the Pizza Hut at 2801 S. Main St. told me this week the dining room might not reopen. Let's not forget that the Main Street Pizza Hut was a full-fledged restaurant with a buffet before the 2011 tornado, but came back as a carryout and delivery operation. That was a setback for dining on South Main Street, which once supported a Pizza Inn and a Pizza Hut.

It would be a shame if Pizza Hut were to permanently shut down its dining room and buffet because it was one of the better options in town. Its closing without question will limit the available options.

If you are not concerned about the delta variant, you should be. It's going to wreak havoc in our area because so many people are choosing not to be vaccinated. I've started to wear my mask again in public areas even though I am fully vaccinated. I know of one case where a vaccinated person had a breakthrough infection with the delta variant.

This variant is highly contagious. That's enough evidence for me to be more cautious. The last thing I want is long-haul COVID.

About to open

The Bacon Me Krazy food truck people are about to open their first location without wheels. The owner told me this week that a small building at the southwest corner of East Seventh Street and North St. Louis Avenue is being upgraded for the task and should be ready to open after inspections in about two weeks or so.

Bacon Me Krazy specializes in burgers, baked potatoes and a selection of appetizers. I've had the jalapeno burger with bacon and cheese more than once.

Bacon Me Krazy is a mobile operation where patrons monitor its location via Facebook. It most often is stationed at 2201 S. Main St.

Earlier this year, Bacon Me Krazy looked very closely at reopening the Eagle Drive-In, but that deal fell through.

Off the path

Every once in a while, this column looks at something new that's opened off of Main Street and Range Line Road. If you have not checked out the new Henkle's Ace Hardware at 2934 S. McClelland Blvd., you should. This place is packed with all of the stuff a hardware store needs to be able to call itself a good hardware store.

There's an electrical department, a plumbing department, a lawn and garden area, a nursery and a paint department. There's a broad selection of brand-name tools, including Craftsman, DeWalt, Stihl, Toro and Black & Decker, to name a few. The grilling department has about everything an outdoor cook would need, including a selection of Big Green Eggs in various sizes.

If you are looking for canning supplies, you need to look no further.

I picked up some canning lids while I was there earlier this week. I also picked a couple of hostas from the nursery, which has a broad selection of well-maintained perennials.

This is the second location for owner John Henkle. The first was in Webb City. Although it's quite a drive for me since I live on the south side of Joplin, I have been a frequent shopper at the Henkle's in Webb City. I have bought tomato plants there, a Stihl chainsaw and a lot of paint. For people living on the south side of Joplin, this store will provide a convenient alternative to the big-box stores on Range Line Road.

Store hours are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Want a job?

To keep an eye on developments on Main Street and Range Line Road, I do a weekly windshield survey that includes all of Main Street, and all of Range Line Road in Joplin and Madison Street in Webb City.

On a recent trip, I counted 47 "help wanted" and "now hiring" signs.

Most of them involved restaurants on Range Line Road, but not all of them were related to food service.

Contact Wally Kennedy at wkennedy@joplinglobe.com.

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