El Guapo’s Cigar & Pipe Lounge

Over the past year, I’d seen my friends post on Facebook about places where you could throw axes for fun and I thought, “Is this for real? People are actually allowed to throw sharp objects in public?”

 

I was intrigued.

 

Certainly, there had to be rules and procedures established in order to make this safe, right? I was curious to see for myself how this axe-throwing thing worked, but the closest place to throw axes was over an hour away at the time. But in February of this year, I came across a post in my Facebook feed announcing that axe throwing had arrived in Joplin!

 

Alex Menejias is the savvy businessman who seized the opportunity to add this activity at El Guapo’s Cigar & Pipe Lounge, making his establishment the only cigar lounge in the area that offers axe throwing.  

 

el guapo logo red table

El Guapo’s House of Axe is a new arm of the enterprise that Menejias created in 2016 when he introduced his cigar lounge to the area. I admit that I’d avoided checking out the cigar lounge because, as a nonsmoker, I didn’t think there wasn’t a reason for me to go.

 

Then came axe throwing.

 

 

El Guapo’s House of Axe

I’m glad that my curiosity about this unique activity got me in the door at El Guapo’s because I discovered that this establishment has definitely been operating under the radar. There are so many activities here that it feels like a playland for adults – but with a chill, loungy vibe.

 

Let’s begin with axe throwing. My husband Travis and I arrived at El Guapo’s on a Friday night, ready to de-stress from our busy week by hurling sharp objects through the air at a wooden target. It’s better than throwing things at each other, right?

 

When we entered El Guapo’s, Alex, the owner, greeted us from behind the bar. We told him we were interested in axe throwing and he asked if we had a reservation. We didn’t, but luckily we’d gotten there early enough in the evening that there was a spot available. If you’re interested in axe throwing, call ahead for a reservation because, according to Alex, “Lots of people like to get out their aggressions on a Saturday night.”

 

Or, in our case, on a Friday night.

 

El Guapo’s House of Axe is located on the second floor of this historic downtown building, right above the cigar lounge.

 

el guapo exterior1

The cost for axe throwing for one hour is $20 per person. After paying for our session, signing waivers, and grabbing a couple of beers, we went upstairs to the cages. A floor monitor reviewed the rules with us (there’s a maximum of 3 drinks per person – smart rule), then walked us through the throwing process, which reminded me a lot of bowling in that you are assigned to a lane, then you take turns walking up to a line and hurling a heavy object.

 

el guapo cages

I didn’t realize how heavy the axe would feel until I finally held it. I had imagined throwing the axe with the fierceness and precision of a warrior, but now I wasn’t too sure of myself. At three pounds, the axe wasn’t nearly as heavy as a bowling ball, but it felt weighty. Frankly, I was a bit intimidated.

 

But with gentle prodding from Travis and the floor monitor, I stepped up to the line. It was then that I realized that a pair of flip flops was not my best footwear choice, but I had stubbed my toe earlier that day and it was too swollen to fit into any other type of shoe. I blinked away thoughts of one of my little piggies being permanently severed from the rest of its family, focused on the target in front of me, and threw the axe.

 

I may have closed my eyes, which I’m 100% sure is a safety no-no. Nonetheless, my throw actually embedded the axe into the wood.

 

el guapo chris axe

True, it was close to embedding in the wood floor – but it didn’t!

 

Travis, who’s always analyzing and strategizing (which is awesome if he’s on your team, and downright annoying if he’s your opponent) was up next.

 

el guapo axe overhead

He practiced the throwing positions, asking the floor monitor pertinent questions about hand placement and trajectory and blah, blah, blah. Finally, he threw the axe.

 

el guapo bullseye

A bull’s eye on the first try?

 

Seriously?

 

It was my turn again. I tried to summon that warrior energy that I’d envisioned earlier. I focused intently on the target.

 

el guapo worm target

Perhaps I shouldn’t have focused so strongly because the target started to resemble the face of a sweet little inchworm caterpillar.

 

el guapo inchworm

How could I hurl an axe at that?

 

Not very well, according to my throw…

 

Travis must not have seen the caterpillar’s face because he scored a couple more bull’s eyes (or sweet caterpillar noses, if you saw it through my eyes).

 

Our hour flew by and groups began arriving to take our place in the lane, so we moved on to the corn hole game area.

 

el guapo corn hole 2

I was pretty pumped because I’m fairly adept at playing the corn hole toss. Thanks to the numerous trips we’ve taken to pumpkin patches with the kids over the years, where the corn hole toss seems to be a staple venues, I’m well-practiced.

 

Or so I thought.

 

Travis went first.

 

el guapo corn hole

Guess what happened? His first toss went right in.

 

Did I mention that his cousin is a corn hole champion from southern Illinois (she’s been on ESPN playing this sport), so he might have some corn-hole-tossing skills in his DNA?

 

 

El Guapo’s Cigar & Pipe Lounge

We then went down to the first floor and did some activities at which I was more genetically compatible to Travis: pinball, shuffleboard, and billiards.

 

el guapo pool

One thing that we didn’t try was El Guapo’s indoor golf simulator – the only one in the Joplin area.  

 

el guapo golf simulator

It was fun to play all of these things in a relaxed atmosphere, and we agreed that this would be a fun place to come with our friends – we could socialize while we played. I also learned that El Guapo’s hosts monthly events like Comedy Night and Poker Night, giving us yet even more reasons to come back.

 

el guapo stage

As far as purchasing refreshments goes, you can choose from wine and beer (there are more than 20 domestic and craft beer options) on the first floor of El Guapo’s; if you need more sustenance, there are snacks like chips and hot dogs to keep you going.

 

Well, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t mention the cigar lounge. You can begin your cigar-smoking experience by stepping into the walk-in humidor and browsing through over 100 cigar facings and selecting the perfect cigar just for you.

 

el guapo cigars

 

el guapo cigars closeup

After that you can settle in to smoke in the first floor bar area, or if you’re interested in purchasing a membership, you can enjoy your cigar in this classy members-only lounge.

 

el guapo smoking lounge (1)

With a relaxed, lounge-like atmosphere and lots of activities for you and your friends to enjoy, El Guapo’s is a unique addition to Joplin’s nightlife scene.

 

 

El Guapo’s Cigar & Pipe Lounge is located at 532 South Joplin Avenue. If you’re interested in axe throwing, call 417-825-7700 to make a reservation. Click here to follow El Guapo’s on Facebook.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Finn’s

One Sunday last fall, my husband Travis and I found ourselves with some free time (what?) and without kids (thanks, Grandma), so we decided to celebrate by eating out.

 

“There’s a place I’ve been following on Facebook called Finn’s that looks intriguing,” I said. “Let’s try that.”

 

Always eager for a new experience (and also really, really hungry), we hopped into the car and followed the directions on the GPS, which led us to what appeared to be a former supermarket. We paused in front of the building, seeing signs for Precision Pilates and The Emerson, but not Finn’s. “The GPS says it’s supposed to be here,” I insisted, seemingly forgetting the multiple times that Google Maps had previously led me astray.

 

finns building

“Let’s check out what’s on the side of the building,” suggested Travis.

 

finns front entrance

We rounded the corner, and there it was: the entrance to Finn’s.

 

finns emersons room

Inside, there was a spacious dining room with crystal chandeliers to our left (which we learned is part of The Emerson Event Center), and a small room which operates as a restaurant and bar to our right (which is Finn’s).

 

finns doorway

With its stone fireplace, paneled walls, and substantial chairs made from rich wood and leather, the room feels like a library in a traditional English manor, and reminds me of an atmosphere often found in upscale restaurants in big cities.

 

finns dining room 2I felt like we’d driven all the way to Kansas City instead of just 10 minutes down 32nd Street!

 

Brunch

The crackling fire felt cozy and inviting on that chilly day, and we were glad that there was a table available right next to it so that we could enjoy its warmth. I’d been craving Eggs Benedict, so that’s what I ordered, crossing my fingers that Finn’s would deliver a satisfying version of my favorite brunch dish.

 

And they did.

 

finns eggs benedict

Served on a hearty split English muffin, the savory bourbon-glazed ham complimented the delicate poached egg and creamy Hollandaise sauce, and made my mouth so happy. The seasoned home fries that were served with the dish were addicting – and filling. I reached a point where I could eat no more, and took the remainder of my meal home to feast on later.

 

finns burger

Since we were eating around one o’clock, Travis was more in the mood for lunch, so he ordered the inventive Hangover Burger, a smash burger topped with pepper jack cheese, chorizo, a fried egg, and avocado. It delivered a mouthful of smoky, spicy flavors.

 

Other intriguing brunch menu items at Finn’s include Honey Chicken and Biscuits, Raspberry Cream Stuffed French Toast, and Clark’s Cheesecake Omelet. There are also a variety of salads, sandwiches, and tacos to satisfy any palate. And you can sip on a mimosa or a Bloody Mary to make your leisurely brunch experience complete.

 

Dinner

Once we discovered Finn’s, we couldn’t get enough of it. Within the next few weeks, we returned to Finn’s for brunch and lunch with friends and family, and then for dinner on our date night when we, once again, sat next to the crackling fire (so romantic!).

 

We started with drinks and appetizers. Travis ordered The Emerson, which is a Moscow Mule served with basil and cucumber.

 

finns emerson drink

I ordered The 32nd Street, which was made with bourbon, simple syrup, fresh blackberries, and mint.

 

finns 32nd street drink

I like how the drinks are named after people and places connected with the restaurant and Joplin. It’s a nice touch.

 

Travis ordered the shrimp cocktail, which came with a generous number of plump shrimp.

 

finns shrimp cocktail

I ordered bruschetta, which is a popular appetizer here, according to our server.

 

finns bruschetta

A departure from traditional tomato-topped appetizer served on French or Italian bread, Finn’s version features toasted flatbread triangles drizzled with a balsamic glaze and served with delicious herbed cream cheese.

 

finns bar people 2

While we were eating our appetizers, the seats at the bar filled up, and I overheard a man say that Finn’s was his favorite place in town to get drinks. I can understand why. Not only does it offer a relaxing place to enjoy cocktails, you can do so for half price during Happy Hour, which runs Monday through Thursday, 4 pm to 7 pm, and includes beer, house wine, well drinks, and appetizers.

 

Travis and I each ordered a glass of wine with dinner, and we joked about the circus-sized glasses that the wine was served in.

 

finns chris wine

However, we certainly didn’t mind the substantial amount of liquid those glasses could hold.

 

For his dinner entrée, Travis ordered the special of the day, which was a version Finn’s hand-cut tenderloin; it was truly fork tender.

 

finns beef

I took our server’s advice and ordered Clark’s Chop, an apple-brined French pork chop topped with a sweet and smoky bourbon glaze, and served with mashed potatoes and bacon bourbon green beans.

 

finns pork

I can’t remember when I’d last eaten a pork chop, as it isn’t typically a cut of meat that I prefer. But tasting Finn’s flavorful and tender (there’s that word again) chop has quite possibly converted me.

 

Finn’s also offers a variety of other menu options, including seafood dishes, salads (like caprese avocado – yum!), and soup (like house-made gumbo).

 

After that hearty meal, I needed to stand up and stretch (dining is such a challenging sport), so I got up and wandered around. I decided to check out the restrooms. You can tell a lot about a restaurant from its restrooms, and the ladies’ restroom at Finn’s is simply stunning.

 

finns bathrooms

Its elegance is fitting, since it is utilized not only by diners at Finn’s, but also by guests who attend special events (like wedding receptions) at The Emerson.

 

I returned to the table to discover a piece of chocolate cake waiting for me, and groaned.

 

finns chocolate cake

“I can’t take another bite,” I said, as I picked up my fork and took yet another bite. I mean, I had to at least try a bite of that scrumptiousness, right?

 

Just then, the restaurant owner Chef Mickel Clark, came to our table to see how we were enjoying our meal. It was nice to see him engaging with, and getting feedback from, his customers. He told us about some exciting things that he and his partner Chef Red Morris (the barbeque master) had been working on, such as expanding the hours at Finn’s to seven days a week, and introducing Clark’s Cuisine on the Scene, a traveling food truck that features a limited menu.

 

How do they do all of that plus operate Clark’s Cuisine, the catering business for The Emerson (as well as for off-site events)? These men have found many creative ways to showcase their culinary talent, and the Joplin community is lucky to benefit from their efforts.

 

A Few Things to Note

Featuring a combination of steakhouse items, comfort food, and Southern flair, Finn’s offers a unique, elevated dining experience in Joplin. Here are some things to know before you go:

 

Finn’s is located at 2707 E. 32nd Street. It sits back from the street, so you may drive past it the first time, but definitely turn back! It’s so worth the trip.

 

Finn’s is open daily; dinner only on Saturday, brunch only on Sunday, and both lunch and dinner served the rest of the week. Click here for reservations.

 

Finn’s offers outdoor dining! Enjoy your food on the patio in nice weather.

 

Follow Finn’s on Facebook for information on special events and live music (like Saxophone Saturday).

 

For information on booking The Emerson or for off-site catering, click here.

 

finns dog

This is Finn. Look for the photo of him near the bar at the restaurant.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

The Coffee Shop at Joplin Greenhouse

Have you ever experienced such outstanding customer service that you feel like you’ve stepped into an alternate reality?

 

Like when you’re greeted by someone who flashes a warm smile, makes direct eye contact, and engages with you in such a familiar way that you begin to think that perhaps that person has mistaken you for someone else – like a regular customer, or the boss’ sister?

 

But after a quick glance around, you realize that you’re the only person standing in line.

 

So… you must be the recipient of this VIP treatment.

 

It’s somewhat discombobulating, but yet oh-so-wonderful, to be regarded more like a human being than just a customer, isn’t it?

 

This is what it feels like every time I go to The Coffee Shop at Joplin Greenhouse.

 

greenhouse entrance

In addition to its exceptional customer service, The Coffee Shop also offers quality local products (including coffee, of course), inventive menu items, and lots of greenery (hello, nature!), making it one of my favorite places to go to meet with friends or to get some writing done.

 

greenhouse facade

Opened in September 2018, The Coffee House shares a building with Joplin Greenhouse, and is located in front of the Food for Less store on 32nd Street.

 

greenhouse counter

The interior of the shop looks like the work of HGTV’s Joanna Gaines, with its stained concrete floors, exposed ductwork, corrugated metal focal walls, black and white tiles, and, yes, shiplap.

 

greenhouse sign and counter

This industrial look is softened by a multitude of plants (courtesy of Joplin Greenhouse) that are spaced throughout the shop, and on a living wall – in front of which there is a selfie station that my daughter and I had fun using (see our Instagram boomerang at the end of this post).

 

greenhouse photo booth

Feel like you’re outdoors while you sip your coffee at one of the tables next to the koi pond created by Inside Out Designs.

 

greenhouse inside out

Or, when the weather is warm enough, physically go outdoors and sit at one of The Coffee Shop’s covered tables.

 

greenhouse outside

Local is the focus here, and The Coffee Shop proudly serves coffee from Bearded Lady Coffee Roasters and Cottage Small Coffee Roasters, as well as Kansas City’s Hugo Tea Co. products.

 

greenhouse menu

In addition to the regular beverage menu, there are special drinks each month, like the festive Eggnog Shooter, or refreshing iced Ozark Stinger, sweetened with local honey.

 

greenhouse monthly menu

Over the winter, I got hooked on the Dark Chocolate Cortado drink special, made with Bearded Lady espresso, Ozark Mountain Creamery chocolate milk, and dark chocolate pieces (finding the chocolate at the bottom of the cup is like discovering a treasure!).

 

greenhouse cortado

Even though the Dark Chocolate Cortado is not on the regular menu, the staff will gladly make it upon request – another sign of excellent customer service.

 

To go with your coffee, try The Coffee Shop’s unique offering: the puffle, a soft, lightly sweet puffed waffle. Fill it with ice cream for a sweet treat, or choose the savory Breakfast Puffle any time of the day; it’s filled with bacon, egg, cheese, guacamole, Sriracha sauce, and maple syrup, and delivers a salty, sweet, savory mixture of flavors.

 

greenhouse puffle

I’ve also tried the Avocado Toast special here, which is served with tangy feta cheese crumbles, and fiery Sriracha sauce.

 

greenhouse avocado

If you’re hankering for some baked goods, sample a macaron, cupcake, or cookie made by local baker Maggie Brown of Willis Baking. Always committed to encouraging local entrepreneurs, The Coffee Shop has opened its kitchen for Maggie to use so that she can access the resources she needs in order to grow her business.

 

greenhouse pastries

This movement to support local businesses is not new to Curt Carr, the owner of Joplin Greenhouse. Prior to opening The Coffee Shop, he operated The Marketplace in the same space, carrying local and organic produce, meats, and other goods (read about it here).  He continues that tradition by selling local goods at The Coffee Shop.

 

greenhouse local goods

Curt hit the jackpot when he hired Adam Lopardo, and his wife Ivy – both former Starbucks employees – to run The Coffee Shop. Prior to working at The Coffee Shop, Adam honed his barista skills by completing the Starbuck’s Coffee Master program, but it was his time at Best Buy that taught him something equally valuable. There, he worked in the Geek Squad, hiring employees who demonstrated good customer service skills first, and then training them on information technology.

 

Adam has applied that same model at The Coffee Shop. He does not hire baristas; rather, he hires people who radiate hospitality, and then he trains them in the art of coffee-making.

 

Because you can teach employees to make a good cup of coffee, but you can’t teach them to care about the customers.

 

Lucky for us, at The Coffee Shop, they do both.

 

 

The Coffee Shop at Joplin Greenhouse is located at 2820 E. 32nd Street. Click here to visit its website, and here to follow it on Facebook.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Third Thursday

A few years ago, when I first heard a friend throw out the term “Third Thursday,” I thought she was merely referring to a day that was near the weekend, and near the end of the month – kind of a weekend wannabe. I had no idea that she was talking about an actual organized event held in downtown Joplin.

 

But times have changed.

 

These days, most everyone I talk to in Joplin has either heard of – or been to – Third Thursday. This event’s popularity has grown, along with its number of vendors and attendees.

 

But if you’ve never been to a Third Thursday and are wondering what all of the excitement is about, here’s what you can expect.

 

There’s art, music, dancing, food, shopping, giveaways, a car show, activities for kids – you name it. It’s a day when the spotlight is on downtown Joplin, highlighting the unique businesses, restaurants and cultural amenities that make our city vibrant.

 

third thursday 2016

On the third Thursday of each month from March through October, Main Street is blocked off from car traffic and transforms into a pedestrian area between First and Seventh Streets, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Performance stages, vendor tents and food trucks are set up on the street, and downtown buildings open their doors to feature art displays.

 

One thing that really impressed me on a recent Third Thursday was the multitude of food trucks and vendors that now participate in the event.

 

third thursday harvs bbq

These vendors offered a wide range of food choices: King’s Kettle CornAJ’s Eatery (BBQ), Carmine’s Woodfired PizzaSweet Emotion (hand-dipped chocolates and fruit), and SnowFlakes Shaved Ice.

 

third thursday pineapple bliss

Tip: If the you see the Pineapple Bliss truck at Third Thursday, get in line immediately!

 

We initially walked past it when there was a handful of people anxiously anticipating their fruity soft serve treats, and we thought we’d come back when the line went down. Ha ha! Later on, the line was snaking halfway down the street.

 

In addition to the food trucks, downtown restaurants are open during Third Thursday, and several of them offer extended patio areas that spill out into the streets, like this one from the hip lounge and restaurant Infuxn.

 

third thursday infuxn

When we were done grazing through the food vendors, we walked around and checked out the artists on display. Here are some that caught my eye:


third thursday barrel werksBarrel Werks’ home furnishings are made from retired wine barrels.

 

third thursday penny fairmanPenny Fairman Art (Penny is a Kansas City artist with family in the Joplin area)

 

third thursday downingCorey Downing creates art from vinyl LPs

 

third thursday hannah snowJoplin artist Hannah Snow

 

If seeing this artwork awakens the inner artist in you, there are several downtown studios open during Third Thursday to accommodate your burning desire, including Firehouse PotteryRSVPaint, and Local Color Art Gallery (a few blocks south on Main Street).

 

third thursday rsvp

Art is not only something to appreciate visually; sometimes we drink and eat it. Some of the Third Thursday artisans offering ingestible art were:

 

third thursday bearded lady

Bearded Lady Roasters

 

third thursday home brewJoplin Home Brew Club (crafting beer is an art, too)

 

third thursday grannys goodiesDog treats from Granny’s Goodies

 

I think Granny sold out of her dog treats within the first hour due to the incredibly high number of canine attendees that night. Hey, doesn’t everyone – and every dog (on a leash, of course) – deserve to have fun night out?

 

Going to Third Thursday also gives me the chance to browse through my two favorite downtown boutiques, since they keep their doors open during the event:  Sophie and Blue Moon Boutique. For people who are into fitness, a downtown store worth visiting is Runaround Running & Lifestyle Co., which has an experienced and helpful staff that can help with your running/walking needs.

 

So with looking at artwork and browsing through stores, it sounds like kids would be bored stiff at Third Thursday, right? Wrong! There were bounce houses, interactive booths, a man making animals out of balloons, and the Art Feeds’ bus which is there each month with a fun art project for the kids to do.

 

Third Thursday Art Feeds

Another Third Thursday tradition is having your picture taken in 9Art Photography’s themed photo booth. Can you guess what the theme was for our session?

 

third thursday 9 art photo

My facial expression might lead you to think that it’s “I just bit into a sour lemon” day, but the theme was actually “Windy Day.”

 

Another fun Third Thursday photo op is having your picture taken in this ginormous rocking chair in front of the former Joplin Public Library.

 

third thursday rocking chair

For vintage and muscle car buffs, there’s a section near First Street that’s reserved for displaying cars. It was also a big hit for people whose favorite color is orange.

 

third thursday orange carShe loves orange!

 

While walking between exhibits, we passed several performance stages where local dancers and musicians were entertaining the crowd.

 

third thursday twirlSometimes the music just moves you…

 

We detoured off of Main Street to catch a performance of one of my favorite local singers, high-schooler Olivia Wu, who was playing at Joplin Avenue Coffee Company.

 

third thursday olivia wu

My middle daughter and I chilled out in the comfy coffee house chairs and listened to Olivia’s mind-blowing voice while my husband took my youngest daughter to the bounce houses – again.

 

At Third Thursday, everybody’s happy, and everybody wins.

 

Third Thursday sunset

Third Thursday events are organized by the Downtown Joplin Alliance. 

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Bookhouse Cinema

When I first heard that Bookhouse Cinema, a micro theater, was opening in Joplin, I was excited that we’d have a venue in town where we’d be able to see independent, artsy movies – the kind of films that we’d normally have to drive to Kansas City for if we wanted to see them on a big screen.

 

I’ve now seen several films at Bookhouse since Holly and Brad Crane opened the theater in April 2018. Each time I go, I discover some new aspect about this place. In addition to the theater itself, there’s a kitchen, a pub, and a community space.

 

It didn’t take long for me to realize that Bookhouse isn’t just a spot where you can watch cool movies; it’s a gathering place.

 

bookhouse projector

To give you an idea of what a visit to Bookhouse is like, let me tell you about a Sunday afternoon that I spent here with my friend Carrie.

 

An East Town Gem

 

Bookhouse occupies several historic buildings on Broadway Street, which was once the iconic Route 66, right in the heart of Joplin’s East Town.

 

bookhouse exterior

Parking is available along the street, or in lots on the west and east ends of the property. I parked in the west lot, across from the captivating East Town mural, Belonging to All the Hands Who Build, which depicts the history and culture of this Joplin neighborhood.

 

murals-belonging-full-mural (1)

The west parking lot is adjacent to an ornately fenced-in green space, which the Cranes plan to develop into a usable outdoor space for the Bookhouse complex in the near future.

 

bookhouse patio

 

Cinema

 

I’d purchased our movie tickets online a few days earlier, so  Carrie and I checked in at the box office, got our paper tickets, then made our way to the concession area. This area is anchored by a show-stopping counter that runs along the back wall. 

 

bookhouse counter1

This counter, which once resided on Main Street at Criterion Bar over a century ago, now brings a hefty dose of charm to the concession area at Bookhouse. That’s something you don’t see at your everyday multiplex.

 

bookhouse popcorn (1)

Bookhouse offers traditional snacks like candy and popcorn, although the topping choices for the popcorn are anything but traditional.

 

bookhouse toppings

We planned on eating lunch after the movie, so we skipped the snacks and just got some water. Had I been in the mood for a more grown-up drink, I would have been welcome to enjoy it during the movie. Bookhouse is the only place in Joplin that allows patrons to bring drinks like beer, wine, and cocktails into the theater with them.

 

bookhouse theater seats

Carrie and I found some seats in the comfy 45-seat theater and settled in.

 

bookhouse screen dark

The movie showing that day was Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a documentary about Fred Rogers, whose groundbreaking children’s show we both had grown up watching. I totally wasn’t prepared for the emotional ending. I’m glad Carrie brought tissues…

 

Dining

 

Afterward, we emerged from the dark theater into the cozy community space.

 

With its warm wooden ceiling beams, textured walls, and rustic brick floors, it looks like an Old-World pub, and with groups of people talking, eating, and drinking, it feels like an Old-World pub, too. Again, a gathering place.

 

bookhouse entrance

At first, Carrie and I were quiet, each of us processing the final scenes of the Mr. Rogers’ movie. But it only took a few minutes looking at the goodies at the food counter to bring us back to reality. Food has a wonderful grounding quality to it, doesn’t it?

 

The sweets caught our attention first. That afternoon, they were featuring brownie batter cheesecake bars, blueberry pie fudge, apple butter snickerdoodles, vegan cookies, and an electric green Grinch cake (a timely choice for the Christmas holiday). I ordered a piece of this festive, checkered cake to take home for my family to feast on.

 

bookhouse cake

Then we focused on ordering lunch. The menu at Bookhouse offers a variety of shareable plates, salads, tacos, and sandwiches. Plus, there are options for vegetarians, vegans, and even for those following a keto diet. Nothing here is ever frozen; everything is made from scratch by Chef Matt Richardson.

 

We placed our orders, then walked around to look at the work of Bookhouse’s current featured artist hanging on the walls. (To see whose art is on display right now, click here).

 

bookhouse art

I love that the Cranes offer space at their business for local artists to gain exposure, and I love being surrounded by such creativity while I eat.

 

It’s a win-win.

 

Our food arrived, and we started out with the crunchy beer-battered cauliflower, one of the shareable plates on the menu.

 

bookhouse cauli

Then I moved on to my tender lamb sliders, which I’d ordered with a side of crunchy beet chips.

 

bookhouse lamb

Carrie, a vegan, opted for the veggie sliders with a side of pasta salad.

 

bookhouse veggie

The sliders consisted of a zucchini falafel topped with greens, tomatoes, and feta, and it came with tzatziki sauce. To make this vegetarian dish vegan, Carrie omitted the feta and asked for a vegan substitute for the sauce.

 

We’d ordered the drink specials to go with our lunch. I tried a glass of mead from Leaky Roof Meadery, located in Buffalo, Missouri. Made with wildflower honey, it tasted light and refreshing; a perfect accompaniment to my hearty lamb sliders.

 

bookhouse mead

Carrie ordered a cup of vegan hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps, a great way to warm up on a cold winter’s afternoon.

 

Check out that steam!

 

bookhouse hot choc

To find out when the kitchen at Bookhouse is open, click here. And if you’re craving something from Bookhouse but just can’t muster the energy to leave your house, just place an order with Bite Squad, and your food will be delivered to you.

 

Community

 

But by eating at home, you’d be missing out on an essential component of the Bookhouse experience: community. There’s a palpable energy here, with people coming in for many different purposes: to watch a movie, eat a meal, grab drinks with a friend, or meet with a special group, like Joplin Board Games Meetup, or The Bookhouse Book Club.

 

Or, like me, to find a comfortable spot to write.

 

To create.

 

To be.

 

bookhouse restaurant interior

The reasons that people are drawn to Bookhouse may be diverse, but the outcome is always the same: connection.

 

Kudos to the Cranes for creating an inviting space – a gathering place – for the Joplin community.

 

 

Bookhouse Cinema is located at 715 East Broadway Street. To view its website, click here, and to follow it on Facebook, click here.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Blush Boutique

We all have our go-to stores, the places where we know we’ll find something, even when we’re not even sure what we’re looking for.

 

Blush Boutique is one of these stores.

 

Whether I’m looking for a unique gift for someone, or seeking to update my wardrobe with the latest fashion trends, I always leave Blush Boutique with my mission accomplished.

 

blush center of store

Apparently I’m not the only fan of this affordable and hip destination; Blush has attained a solid 5-star rating on Facebook – an impressive feat, especially in the retail industry. This stellar rating reflects the quality of service provided by Julie and Bailey Bollin, the mother-daughter duo that opened their original store in March 2018, in Galena, Kansas.

 

blush bailey and julie

With their shared love of fashion, savvy buying skills, and strong social media presence, these women quickly attracted a strong following for the boutique.

 

blush general

In February 2019, the Bollin ladies relocated their store to downtown Joplin, joining these other locally owned women’s boutiques in offering the latest trends to area shoppers.

 

blush exterior

And if you can’t make it into Blush, you can still do some virtual shopping there. Just go to Blush’s Facebook or Instagram pages, find an item you can’t live without (which is easy to do), leave a comment with your size and contact info, and that item will be reserved for you.

 

blush wall display (1)

Blush carries a variety of brands, and the inventory is constantly changing, so it’s difficult to say which lines will be available at any given time. When I last visited, I saw clothes from brands like Umgee, She & Sky, and Hayden. Whether you’re looking for everyday wear like tees and jeans, or something for a special occasion, you’ll find it at Blush.

 

blush tees

blush jeans

There’s also a section of clothing for curvier figures, a nice find at a boutique.

 

blush curvy girl

No outfit is complete without accessories, and Blush carries an array of jewelry (including stackable Erimish bracelets), scarves, hats, and shoes to add the final touches to your look.

 

blush jewelry

blush shoes

In addition to clothing and accessories, you’ll also find a fun mix of lifestyle items, like home decor, bath products, candles, insulated Swig mugs, and collapsible Que mugs (great for traveling).

 

blush hutch

Oh, and Blush hasn’t forgotten about our four-legged friends, either. Even they need to accessorize.

 

So if you haven’t experienced Blush Boutique yet, head down to Main Street and check it out. I promise that you won’t leave this fashion destination empty-handed.

 

 

Blush Boutique is located at 420 South Main Street. Click here to visit its Facebook page, and click here to follow it on Instagram.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

 

*This post was updated on 3/28/19.

Women’s Boutiques in Joplin

Ladies, where was the last place you shopped for boutique clothes and accessories?

 

Was it in Kansas City? Northwest Arkansas? Tulsa?

 

Or was it right here in Joplin?

 

“What??” you may be thinking. “Joplin doesn’t have trendy boutiques like those you find in big cities!”

 

Well, actually we do.

 

In fact, we have several. 

 

Fun, fresh, and original, Joplin’s women’s boutiques offer fashionable merchandise for every budget.

 

So grab a friend and visit one of following trendsetting stores right here in town.

 

 The Boutiques

 

Blue Moon Boutique613 South Main Street

This “modern boutique with a vintage soul” carries trendy clothes, accessories, gifts and home decor. Even if you’re not in the mood to shop (but why wouldn’t you be?), at least take a stroll through the store to see the ever-changing whimsical displays featuring both new and cleverly repurposed items.

 

blue moon canopy

Favorite finds: Boho chic Urban Mango dresses and Good Work(s) Make a Difference leather wrap bracelets. 

 

Blush Boutique420 South Main Street

The racks and shelves at Blush Boutique are teeming with the freshest trends in clothing, accessories, and gifts. Owned by the mother-daughter duo of Julie and Bailey Bollin, Blush Boutique is an affordable and hip fashion destination.

blush tees

Favorite finds: Flowing tops by Umgee, and collapsible water bottles by Que.

 

Lennon’s Boutique, 2722 South Main Street, Suite B

If you’re looking for specialty brands like French Connection and Free People, as well as premium denim from brands like Citizens of Humanity, stop by Lennon’s Boutique. Owner Kirsten Anderson has worked in the northwest Arkansas retail market and is introducing popular and clothing and accessory lines from there to the Joplin market.

 

Favorite finds: Flirty Jeffrey Campbell booties and fun graphic tees from Chaser.

 

Pink Door Boutique1532 W. 32nd Street, First Floor

Would you ever think of going to a medical office building to buy some fashion accessories? Me, neither. But I stumbled across this store after a going to a doctor’s appointment in the building one day, and I’ve since returned to buy items for myself as well as gifts for friends.

 

Pink Door Boutique carries hard-to-find women’s health products, such as items for nursing or for post-mastectomy care (bras, wigs, hats, etc.). But beyond providing essential medical equipment, Pink Door Boutique strives to make its customers feel whole. This is why the store carries trendy shoes and accessories, as well as the Jane Iredale line of cosmetics.

 

boutiques pink hats

Favorite finds: Funky Shreds scarves and adorable shoes from Lindsay Phillips.

 

Sophie531 South Main Street

This “candy store for shoe addicts” has been sustaining my sweet tooth since its opening in 2007. In fact 80% of the footwear in my closet has been purchased here. With brands like Volatile, Naughty Monkey, and Chinese Laundry, Sophie offers the latest footwear fashions at affordable prices.

 

sophie shoes

But Sophie is more than just shoes. In fact, with a wide selection of handbags and accessories plus a boutique clothing section, the store offers everything you need to create an outfit from head to toe.

 

sophie clothing

Favorite finds: Black wedge pumps from Restricted (my favorite pair of shoes – so comfy!) and the roomy hobo handbags from SR Squared.

 

So, did you get some ideas from this list?

 

I know I did. Perhaps one too many…

 

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

 

*Updated 3/28/19

Unique Shops in Joplin

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I love stumbling across new places to see and things to do in the Joplin area.

 

And I get especially excited when I discover new local businesses.

 

Why?

 

First of all, local businesses usually provide a high level of customer service. The owners of these businesses are often visible and accessible, and make an effort to get to know their customers.

 

Second of all, these mom-and-pop shops often sell items that are made in the Joplin area. It’s mind-blowing to me to see the things produced by our neighbors and friends here in our community. This town has some pretty big talent!

 

Beautify Your Nest 

 

Sandstone Gardens2826 Douglas Fir Road

Drivers on I-44 get an unexpected surprise just west of Joplin when they spot the massive European-inspired estate that houses Sandstone Gardens.

 

The interior of this  impressive 50,000 square-foot building contains a wide selection of furniture, home decor, seasonal decor, candles, and boutique accessories, as well as the Bistro restaurant (the desserts there are amazing!).

 

unique sandstone

But the most unique items at Sandstone Gardens are the cast-stone home and garden pieces that are displayed throughout the showroom and the gardens outside.

 

People come from near and far to buy these timeless pieces. I’ve purchased several myself, including flower pots, a bird bath, a garden bench, and some floral arrangements set in cast-stone urns. 

 

Urban Art Gallery511 South Main Street

From photographs to ceramics to jewelry, this gallery features pieces made by local artists, making it a great place to look if you’re shopping for a unique gift.

 

first-thursday-linda-teeterLinda Teeter’s Photography

 

One of my favorite artists sells her work here at Urban Art Gallery. She’s Kristin Girard, the jewelry artist/scientist behind Kristin’s Laboratory

 

 

Attention, Ladies!

Forget driving to a big city to shop for the latest styles of clothing! In fact, Joplin has so many hip and original women’s boutiques that I had to make a post just for them, which you can read right here.

 

blue moon moon starIn addition to selling women’s clothing and accessories, Blue Moon Boutique also sells unique home decor and gift items. Now that’s one-stop shopping!

 

 

Fill Your Belly

 

Candy House Gourmet510 Kentucky Avenue

I fell in love with this place the very first time I visited Joplin, and I’ve been a devoted customer now for twenty years. This handcrafted chocolate is made at the Chocolate Factory downtown, and you can even tour the facility to watch the process in action.

 

Candy House Case

Try a sample of the sea salt caramels (my favorite), the English toffee, the fudge, or anything else – it’s all good. Candy House also sells a variety of sugar-free chocolates, as well as pre-packaged candy assortments that make great gifts.

 

 

Joplin Empire Market, 931 E. 4th Street

For a true slice of the Four State Area, visit the Joplin Empire Market. Open year-round on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., this market features vendors from a 150-mile radius selling produce, meats, eggs, local products, crafts, and art.

 

joplin-empire-interior

 

Get Active

 

Runaround Running & Lifestyle Co., 422 Main Street

You don’t have to be a runner to benefit from a visit to this store. In fact, more than 50% of the store’s business comes from people who are on their feet all day. But all of these customers have one thing in common: they are seeking the perfect fit.

 

To find it, Runaround uses a computerized system which provides information (high arch, low arch, etc.) that allows the staff to find the optimal shoe for each customer.

 

unique runaround

With a wide selection of performance-related shoes, apparel, and gear, as well as its excellent customer service, it’s easy to see why Runaround earned a place in Competitor magazine’s “50 Best Running Stores in America 2013.” Ranked along with running stores located in big cities across the nation, that’s quite an honor for a Joplin business.

 

We’ve got some great local shops in this town, run by talented people who are passionate about what they do.

 

Take some time to visit these gems and see for yourself.

 

You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Lennon’s Boutique

Citizens of Humanity, Cupcakes and Cashmere, and French Connection – these are some of the specialty brands that Kirsten Anderson became familiar with while working Masons, a popular boutique in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  When she realized that there weren’t any stores in Joplin carrying brands like these, she decided to make it her mission to bring them here by opening up her own shop.

 

Carla and Kirsten

 

With her buying experience and fashion savvy, along with the help of her parents Tony and Carla, Kirsten opened Lennon’s Boutique in August 2018, and began introducing the latest trends from premium clothing brands to shoppers on Joplin’s Main Street.

 

The shop’s interior is sleek and modern, punctuated with flirty touches, like fluffy flokati-covered benches in soft creams and pinks. But the first thing I noticed was the large portrait of Beatles’ singer John Lennon giving the peace sign.

 

It was at that very moment when I also realized that there was a John Lennon song emanating from the speakers.

 

Someone must be a huge fan.

 

That someone is Carla, Kirsten’s mom. She’d always liked John Lennon and even hoped Kirsten would choose his name for a baby someday. Kirsten did, in a way. She used it to name her retail baby, Lennon’s Boutique. (Smart move, Kirsten – you made your mom happy and now the pressure’s off!)

 

Walking through Lennon’s is like flipping through the pages of Vogue magazine (or scrolling through its Instagram equivalent), with high-fashion brands like Cupcakes and Cashmere (a line by fashion blogger Emily Schumer), the Bohemian brand Free People, French Connection, Lavender Brown, and others.

 

You’ll find chic dress and skirt options for a night out, as well as comfy tees for lounging around, like this one by Chaser.

 

Agolde and Citizens of Humanity are two of the premium denim lines sold at Lennon’s.

 

Lennon’s shoe nook boasts an impressive collection of footwear from Sam Edelman, Dolce Vita, Jeffrey Campbell, Chinese Laundry, and more.

 

No outfit is complete without accessories, and Lennon’s offers ABLE handbags and jewelry to help you add that final touch.

 

ABLE is a company whose mission it is to empower women in Ethiopia, Mexico, and Peru to learn skills, like making jewelry and leather goods, which enable them to earn money and end the cycle of poverty in their communities.

 

And no trip to Lennon’s is complete without saying hi to Bella, the shop dog.

 

She even has her portrait hanging on the wall, painted by Arkansas-based Soulsby Art (who also did the John Lennon painting).

 

Seeing Bella’s sweet face will bring a smile to yours – that’s a treasure you’ll find exclusively at Lennon’s.

 

Lennon’s Boutique is located at 2722 South Main Street, Suite B. Click here to visit its Facebook page.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Social BTB

It’s Friday night, and the first floor of Joplin’s historic Gryphon building is buzzing with activity. Groups of friends and families gather at tables and booths, catching up on each other’s day over a shared meal.

 

This concept, this idea of a gathering place, is a simple one. But it works.

 

social btb gryphon

This gathering place is called Social BTB. Although I consistently – and mistakenly – call it Social TBT (because I’ve been so deeply programmed by Throwback Thursday posts on social media), the BTB here standing for Burgers, Tenders, and Beer, the three things that this restaurant specializes in. Just like the concept, the menu is also simple. And it works.

 

social btb logo

It works because the wizard behind Social BTB is none other than successful local restaurateur George Michalopoulos. George introduced Joplin to his Mediterranean-inspired recipes when he opened Mythos in 2004, a restaurant which continues to be a favorite among local diners as well as visitors.  When I heard that George was opening a new restaurant, I knew I had to try it, and I knew it would be good.

 

And it was.

 

 

Ordering

The first thing you’ll see when you walk into Social BTB is the menu counter. Actually, you’ll probably zero in on your favorite sports teams playing on one of the 16 flat screen TVs hanging in the restaurant, but walk past those and proceed to the menu counter to place your food order. I promise there will be time to watch the games once you’re seated.

 

social btb menu

The menu features burgers, chicken tenders, salads, and sandwiches (including vegetarian options like the Grilled Cheese, and the Veggie, a black bean chipotle patty. There aren’t a gazillion choices on the menu, and that’s refreshing. Again, simple is what works here.

 

social btb interior

Once you place your food and soft drink order, you’ll get a number to take with you to a table or booth of your choice in the dining room. At your booth or table, you’ll notice this magical button.

 

social btb buzz bar

If you’d like something stronger than a soft drink, all you do is press this button, and someone will appear at your table to take your order.

 

In addition to a fully stocked bar, Social BTB offers over 30 types of bottled beers and over a dozen beers on tap.

 

social btb beer

I opted for this refreshing Hefeweizen from KC while my husband Travis chose a draft beer.

 

 

The Food

Sticking with the BTB theme, Travis ordered a burger and I ordered tenders. We also ordered the house-made Onion Strings. I could have eaten those tasty seasoned strings all by themselves!

 

The Onion Strings arrived with Travis’ dinner. He’d also ordered a side of House Fries with his burger (which he’d customized to his liking). The beef patties here are fresh, not frozen, which makes for juicy burgers.

 

social btb burger

I ordered the BTB (3pc) Plate (you can also choose a 4- or a 5-piece plate), which comes with hand-breaded tenders, garlic house toast, and one dipping sauce.

 

social btb tenders meal

Because I like to try different flavors, I added two more sauces for a small charge, which allowed me to sample the Bleu cheese, garlic Parmesan, and BTB house (a sweet-and-sour Polynesian-type sauce). There are about five more sauces that I want to try the next time I order tenders here.

 

Let me take a moment and focus on the tenders.

 

social btb tenders

These babies are huge and plump and perfectly seasoned. They filled me up so much that I only had room to try a couple of the yummy Sweet Potato Fries I’d ordered as a side before boxing them up to bring home. (Social BTB also offers Salt & Vinegar Fries, which I want to try next time).

 

 

The Gathering Place

After eating, Travis and I walked around to see the rest of Social BTB, which is more like a complex than a restaurant. In addition to the dining room, where we’d eaten, there’s also a bar…

 

social btb bar

…and a couch lounge.

 

social btb lounge 1

 

social btb lounge 2

The couch lounge is a great place to watch football games with friends. Visit on Wristband Sunday when you can buy a wristband for $3, choose a team, and every time that team scores, you get a free bar favor.

 

Throughout Social TBT, you’ll find murals of animals with cheeky sayings painted above them. For example, take this animal exchange (which reminds me of the Chick-fil-A cow/chicken rivalry):

 

social btb cow

 

social btb chicken

Another feature that Social TBT offers is outdoor seating.

 

social btb outdoor view

I love eating outdoors whenever possible, and I’m always searching for restaurants that have this option.

 

social btb outdoor seating

Not only can you eat outside, but you can also play games! Spend a balmy summer night hanging out on the patio with friends or family (or both) while playing corn hole, jumbo Jenga, jumbo cup pong, or outdoor bowling.

 

social btb corn hole

Afterwards, treat yourself to some ice cream at Caroline’s, located just down the hall from Social BTB, on the Main Street side of the Gryphon Building.

 

Open seven days a week, Social BTB offers good food, plentiful drinks, and a casual space where people of all ages can gather together to socialize.

 

 

Social BTB is located at 1027 South Main Street, inside the Gryphon Building. Click here to visit its website, and here to see its Facebook page.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.