Beating Boredom: Creative Ways to Follow Social Distancing

It’s springtime again in the Ozarks, but our lives look much different this year. The instinct to emerge from our homes after winter hibernation has been met with the unprecedented instruction to wait a bit longer until we venture out and reconnect with others.


But Joplinites have been faced with a life-altering situation once before, when the 2011 tornado whirled through our city, forever changing its landscape – and its people. Back then, we were forced to confront a new normal, and we did. In the years following the tornado, we proved to ourselves, and to the world, that Joplinites are resilient; we’re resourceful, we adapt, and we support our neighbors.


We are, once again, in a situation where we need to tap into those skills in order to create a new normal. There may be limitations on what we can do, but we won’t let those keep up from thriving. Let’s be resourceful, adapt, and support each other – and our local businesses – as we navigate this together.


Here are some ways that we can do that.



Let Someone Else Do the Cooking

If you don’t like to cook, or if you’re an essential worker who doesn’t have the time to cook right now (if that’s you, then thank you for your service), or if you’re craving a dish from your favorite restaurant, then here’s a list for you. 


The following restaurants are currently serving food; click on the restaurant name for more information. Most of these restaurants also offer gift cards. Purchase one today to show your support, or to gift to someone else.


Bamboo Joplin (Chinese) – Curbside, Delivery


Bearded Lady Roasters (Coffee) – Pickup


Big R’s (Barbecue) – Curbside, Delivery


Bites & Pipes (Mediterranean) – Curbside, Delivery


Carmine’s Woodfired Pizza (Italian) – Curbside, Delivery


Chavela’s Mexican Restaurant (Mexican) – Curbside, Delivery


Club 609 (American) – Curbside, Delivery


Club 1201 (American) – Curbside, Delivery


The Coffee Shop at Joplin Greenhouse (Coffee) – Pickup


The Eagle Drive-In (American, Burgers) – Drive-Through


El Taco Loco (Mexican) – Drive-Through, Delivery


El Vaquero (Mexican) – Curbside, Delivery


Finn’s (American) – Curbside, Delivery


Forest & Field (Bakery) – Pre-order for pickups on Saturdays only


Fred & Red’s (American) – Curbside, Drive-Through


Habaneros (Mexican) – Curbside, Delivery


Hackett Hot Wings (American, Chicken Wings) – Carry-Out, Curbside


Han the Sushi Man (Sushi) – Curbside


Lotus Xpress (Chinese) – Drive-Through


Lucy’s Mexican Restaurant (Mexican)Curbside, Drive-Through, Delivery


M&M Bistro (Mediterranean) – Curbside, Delivery


Pineapple Bliss (Frozen Treats) – Drive-Through


Red Onion Cafe (American) – Curbside


Red Onion Espressoria (American) – Curbside


Sakura (Sushi, Japanese) – Curbside


Smack Dab (Food Truck, American) – Walk-Up, Delivery


Turtleheads Raw Bar (Seafood) – Curbside


Wiseguys (Italian) – Carry-Out, Drive-Through, Delivery


Woody’s Smokehouse BBQ (Barbecue) – Curbside, Drive-Through


Zinc Coffee (Coffee and Pastries) – Drive-Through




Go Shopping

Tired of your uniform of yoga pants and a t-shirt? How about finding an interesting painting to spruce up the background of your Zoom chats? Maybe you’re missing the local items that you’d normally pick up at the farmers’ market. No, worries. Many local shops and boutiques offer virtual shopping, either through their online stores or through their Facebook or Instagram pages.




Blue Moon Boutique – Curbside, Delivery, Shipping


Buxton BoutiqueDelivery, Shipping


Lennon’s BoutiqueCurbside, Delivery, Shipping


SophieCurbside, Delivery, Shipping




George A. Spiva Center for the Arts: Pieces from Spiva’s Small Works Auction are featured on its Facebook page. If you find one you like, click on the link in its post in order to place a bid.


Local Color Art Gallery & Studio – This gallery has selected pieces of art from 16 of its artists to auction online. Visit the gallery’s Facebook page to bid on your favorite piece. 


Urban Art Gallery – This gallery is featuring pieces for sale on its Facebook page.


Food and Drink


Candy House Gourmet – Chocolate makes everything better! Order irresistible treats from this iconic Joplin candy maker and pick them up curbside, or have them delivered or shipped.


Christine’s Vineyard – Curbside order and pickup is available on Saturdays, 1 – 5 p.m., for local wine and honey mead.


Hackett Hot Wings – While this restaurant has temporarily reduced its hours, you can purchase its popular hot wing sauces and rubs online anytime.


Joplin Empire Market – Go online and check out the vendors at this farmers’ market. Place your order between Tuesday 8 p.m. and Thursday 8 p.m., then pick it up curbside on Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  


Just a Taste Webb City – Wine, beer, and cocktails are available for pick-up or delivery. Order online by Thursday for pick-up or delivery on Friday and Saturday.


Keltoi Winery – Curbside pickup or carry-out is available when picking up wine from this local Irish winery.


Ol’ Hickory – This artisan butchery and smokehouse if offering online ordering for curbside pickup.


Get Active

Walk, run, and bike on the trails at these local parks (while following the CDC guidelines for social distancing, of course). Note: Some facilities at the parks, including playground equipment, basketball and volleyball courts, and public restrooms remain closed at this time. Ewert Park Skate Park remains closed, as well.


Campbell Parkway1.325 miles


Cunningham Park.35 miles


Frisco Greenway Trail3.5 miles


Landreth Park1.04 miles


Mercy Park1.13 miles


Mohaska/St. John’s Trails1.15 miles/.5 mile


Turkey Creek Trail1.45 miles


Wildcat Glades3.8 miles


*Runaround Running & Fitness is organizing the Keep Joplin Running Virtual 5k event. For more information, click here.


Wade in the Water, Bathe in the Forest

Leave your house – and all your electronics – behind and reconnect with nature at these places.


George Washington Carver National MonumentTrails open, visitor center closed.


Grand Falls


Walter Woods Conservation AreaTrails open.


Wildcat ParkTrails open, Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center closed. Also, you may purchase native plants (pre-order ONLY) for delivery on April 25. Click here for more info. 



Take a Ride (Locally)

Sometimes a change of scenery – even if it’s just 10 minutes from home – provides a much-needed mental health break. Here are some things that you can see while staying safely inside your car. 


Downtown Joplin Mural Tour – You don’t have to go inside a museum to see great art! Drive through the heart of Joplin and check out the many murals that tell the story of Joplin and its people. (Note: You will not be able to see the murals inside City Hall at this time, as the building is closed to visitors – but that just means you’ll have something to come back and see in the future!)


Historic Murphysburg Tour – This tour leads through our city’s first residential neighborhood, past the stunning homes of Joplin’s founders which represent a variety of architectural styles and are works of art themselves. (You can explore Murphysburg on foot, too; just remember to keep 6 feet between yourself and others).


Scenic Tour: This is the perfect tour for a Sunday drive – but since none of us really knows what day of the week it is now anyway, go ahead and take that drive today! Soak in the scenic beauty of the countryside as it bursts into spring, then travel back in time as you cruise a portion of the iconic Route 66. (Even though this tour in this article was done on a motorcycle, you can still enjoy it in a car.) 


Discover, Create, Play (Virtually)

We’re all doing our best to continue working and distance-schooling while we’re at home, but sometimes our brains need to experience something new and different. Some local businesses and attractions recognize this and are switching gears while they are temporarily closed in order to provide their patrons and followers with virtual activities that stimulate our brains in creative ways.


Create N Sip Studios: Order a Create2Go kit from this art studio (pickup and delivery options available). The kits contain supplies for creating a stenciling project, and Create N Sip offers online tutorials to help you along the way.


Escape Joplin: While you can’t visit the escape rooms at this venue right now, you can challenge your mind by trying to solve the daily riddles posted on its Facebook page.


Firehouse Pottery: Slime kits and pottery-to-go kits are available for curbside pickup. The studio is also offering virtual story time with an accompanying pottery piece to paint.


Handmade Home: This crafting studio is offering take-and-make kits which you can pick up or have shipped to you. Find a kit of craft of your own right here.


Joplin History & Mineral Museum: Follow the museum on Facebook and learn the history behind select pieces in the exhibits – then go and see them in person once the museum reopens.


Joplin’s Rich Heritage – This coloring book, created in the 1990s, features drawings of Joplin’s iconic buildings. The book’s artist, Lee Humphrey, is making this book available to the public for free as an educational and creative activity for people to engage in during this time.


Photo Spiva: Since 1977, George A. Spiva Center for the Arts has hosted Photo Spiva, a national photographic competition and exhibition that is the longest-running event of its kind. Get inspired by the talent on display at this year’s Photo Spiva by taking a virtual tour here.


Post Art Library: How about some meditative coloring? The Post Library, in conjunction with Historic Murphysburg Preservation and Visit Joplin MO, has released a FREE downloadable coloring book featuring twelve historical Joplin women, which you can download here. You can be creative and learn about history at the same time!



Listen to Local Musicians

Now is a great time to discover the musical talent of area musicians and follow the ones that you like. Then, once they begin performing again, you’ll be able to hear them play live.


Ben Miller BandBlues/Bluegrass/Rock


Blister SoulRock


Brutally FrankPunk/Psychobilly/Rock


Carter HulseyAlternative Country


Dillon LeggettAcoustic Guitar


Diversity BandPop/Rock Cover Band


Grant LandisPop


Halfway to YellowIndie/Alternative


KufaraZimbabwean Folk


Me Like BeesIndie Rock


SardisHeavy Metal


The Sea HolliesIrish Folk


Let’s continue to be good citizens through this challenging time. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Call your friends and neighbors who are elderly, immunocompromised, or alone and see if they need anything. Let the essential workers know how much their service means to you, and to our community, at this time.


We can do this, Joplin. 


*For a list of community resources available during this time, click here.

Big R’s BBQ

Finger-licking, soul-comforting Southern food. That’s one of my favorite things that I was introduced to when I moved to Joplin from Chicago over 20 years ago. I enthusiastically tried various smoked meats, hearty side dishes, and heavenly pies that were perfected by the fine cooks at mom-and-pop restaurants in my new home town. One of the restaurants whose homestyle food brought me such pleasure way back then continues to do so even today: Big R’s BBQ.


Located in between the city’s I-44 commercial district and downtown Joplin, Big R’s is a family-owned restaurant that has been here since 1998. The original Big R’s opened in 1983 about 45 miles south of Joplin in the tiny town of Noel. Over the years, Big R’s hickory-smoked meats have become somewhat of a legend in this region, making it the top barbecue joint in our city.


My husband Travis and I recently lunched at Big R’s, and I prepped for the event by forgoing breakfast. Since we came for a late lunch on a weekday, we were seated right away, but be advised that the weekends can get crowded here, so call ahead and make a reservation to ensure that you don’t have to wait with your stomach grumbling and your mouth watering.


The inside of Big R’s is decorated in a country-chic style, with junkyard items arranged in artistic and playful ways, like the mural-like wall of old license plates. or the whimsical bike-riding stuffed armadillo positioned above the inside entrance. The overall feeling is relaxed, welcoming, and a bit cheeky.


Big R’s menu offers a wide selection of food: appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and classic Southern dinners featuring baby back ribs, double-smoked burnt ends, hand-breaded chicken fried steak and pork tenderloin, plus traditional barbecue items.


While we sipped on our refreshing iced tea (served in these classically Southern mason jar glasses) and waited for our appetizer, our friendly server delivered a small plate filled with warm, fluffy, homemade rolls, served with dairy butter, as well as some of the best apple butter I’ve ever tasted.



I was slathering apple butter on the second bite of my roll when our server reappeared at the table balancing what looked like a game of Ring Toss on a plate. I put down the roll and assessed the generously sized slices of fried onions that formed the massive Tower-O-Rings in front of me. If all the portions are this huge, I’m going to have to seriously pace myself.


The beer-battered onion rings were served with both ranch dressing and “R Dippin’ Sauce.” As much as I wanted to keep eating them, I kept the promise I’d made to myself and finished one ring and then asked to have the rest boxed to bring home. I knew that my kids would devour them as an after-school snack (and I’d score major points with them, too).



For my entree, I ordered the pulled pork sandwich. The sweet and tangy barbecue sauce was a nice accompaniment to the tender meat. For my side dish, I chose the potato salad; with finely chopped veggies like onions and peppers, it was packed full of both crunch and flavor.


Travis ordered the brisket dinner, which came with two sides. He chose the slightly sweet baked beans and pasta salad (the side dish of the day), which contained pieces of fresh broccoli, red onions, olives, and bacon bits.


When we were about halfway done with our entrees, our server stopped at our table and reminded us to make sure that we left enough room for pie.


There’s no way I can think of eating pie right now, I thought as I wiped some barbecue sauce from the corner of my mouth. But knowing that a trip to Big R’s would not be complete without a slice of its homemade pie, I decided to order some slices to go. My kids were going to be very, very happy with me after school.



The refrigerator in the front of Big R’s displays a variety of tempting pies, including this pretty Peanut Butter-Filled Chocolate Pie. But we limited ourselves to just two options because, like everything at Big R’s, the slices are huge.



We brought home a slice of strawberry pie, often called The Mile High Strawberry Pie for obvious reasons…



We also brought home a slice of coconut cream pie, which consisted of a creamy coconut custard, topped with fluffy cream, then dusted with bits of toasted coconut.



It’s a coconut-lover’s dream.



One thing is for sure: With quality homestyle Southern fare, you will never leave Big R’s hungry – or disappointed. They’ve had so many satisfied customers over the years (like me!) that they’ve earned the right to declare, “We’ve got the meat you can’t beat and the pie you can’t deny!”



Big R’s is located at 1220 E. 15th Street. For more information, visit its website, Facebook page, or Instagram page.


To read more about my adventures in the area, visit

Frosted Cakerie

In this age of 24/7 accessibility, we feel impatient if we can’t get something right away. But there’s a lot to be said about learning to wait. There’s a buildup of excitement and anticipation, and when we finally do get the thing that we were longing for, we appreciate it more.


That’s how I feel about the baked treats from Frosted Cakerie. When I take a bite of one of the cupcakes, cookies, or other sweets from this bakery, I savor it just a bit more because I know that these goodies are only available to the public once a week on Walk-In Wednesdays.



During the rest of the week, Kristen Scheafer, owner of the bakery, tantalizes us with Instagram photos of the yumminess to come the following Wednesday; that is, when she’s not busy creating custom cakes for clients (which are the mainstay of her business). Her modern cakes, with creative designs and unique color palettes, are works of art – and they taste amazing, too! This winning combination is what has made Frosted successful since opening in 2016.



I visited Frosted on a recent Walk-In Wednesday. It shares a space with Bearded Lady Roasters, which roasts and serves some of the best coffee in Joplin. Pairing a coffee shop with a bakery is a brilliant move.



On the day I popped in, Bearded Lady Roasters was celebrating its first birthday (at that location), and Frosted was celebrating its fourth birthday (for which Kristen made these adorable cannoli).



There was a party going on in the display case, too, with sprinkles adding extra flair to the baked goods.



The offerings at Frosted change weekly, and sometimes there are even vegan and gluten-free options to try.


I decided to pick out a variety of things to bring home for me and my family to share, including the prettiest lemon doughnut I’ve ever seen.



I also chose a Pink Champagne cupcake (one of Frosted’s most popular flavors). The cake was a pretty blush color, and the delicious champagne buttercream was topped with a dusting of glitter and sprinkles.



I also brought home one of the popular – and gigantic – lemon cookies. I loved the shortbread-like consistency, and the nice balance of sweetness and tartness.



My kids devoured the Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookie Sandwich first. This sinful creation consisted of two cookies held together with a layer of buttercream frosting.



We loved our goodies so much that I came back two days later, on a Friday, to take advantage of Frosted’s Valentine’s Day Pop-Up Shop. I snagged one of the Red Velvet cupcakes to share with my husband that night.


The moist, red cake was topped with heavenly Milk & Honey cream cheese frosting made with locally sourced milk from Edgewood Creamery.



Other local products are available to purchase in the Frosted/Bearded Lady Roasters shared space, including coffee, honey, and pottery, like this cake stand – which would be perfect for displaying lovely Frosted treats.



But, be warned. Those irresistible sweets will disappear quickly, leaving you staring at a cake stand covered in crumbs.


But at least it’s a pretty cake stand.




Visit Frosted Cakerie on Walk-In Wednesdays at 218 South Main Street. Click here to view Frosted’s website, or follow Frosted on Facebook and Instagram.


To read more about my adventures in the area, visit

Bearded Lady Roasters

It’s a pretty special thing to watch a business grow, to see an idea emerge into reality, then expand and thrive as people recognize its worth in their world.


I’ve seen this with Bearded Lady Roasters. Owned by Adam Francis, a man who is skilled in the art of roasting coffee beans, Bearded Lady Roasters’ products were first introduced to me, and many other Joplinites, at a Third Thursday celebration a few years ago. Third Thursday is a downtown event featuring art, music, and food. Local vendors can rent booths to showcase their goods, and that’s when I first tasted the good-tasting goods of Bearded Lady Roasters.



A couple years later, I was having a coffee at The Coffee Shop at Joplin Greenhouse, a shop which utilizes and promotes local vendors. I was blown away by the robust flavor of the cortado I ordered, and I asked what brand of coffee was used in my drink.


It was Bearded Lady Roasters.


Then, in 2019, it happened. Bearded Lady Roasters opened a brick-and-mortar store on Main Street in downtown Joplin.



Finally, an abstract idea had become a physical reality.


Bearded Lady Roasters’ coffee shop gives off a chill vibe with its simple and stylish interior.



With a mix of lounge seating for socializing, tables and chairs for enjoying a bite to eat before the work day, and a row of seating along one wall (with ample outlets available) that’s perfect for students and mobile workers like me, Bearded Lady Roasters offers an environment that welcomes a variety of patrons.



There are even seats at the coffee bar itself where you can get a close-up view of Adam working his craft.



His single batch brews are legendary among coffee connoisseurs. On the day I visited, he was featuring Ethiopia Golocha (with notes of blueberry, honey, lavender, and chocolate), and Colombia El Tigre (with notes of dark chocolate, cherry, and lemon.


The day I was there also happened to be the celebration of one year of being in business at this location, so the featured drink was the Birthday Cake Latte, which I had to try because you can’t go to a birthday party without having some cake – or in this case, its liquid equivalent.


The latte had the same robust flavor that I’ve come to expect with Bearded Lady Roasters. Plus, it had sprinkles. A party in a cup!



Bearded Lady Roasters shares a space with Frosted Cakerie, a bakery which focuses primarily on making custom cakes, but on Wednesdays Frosted fills its display case with cookies, cupcakes, and other baked goodies to sell to the public. Frosted also supplies a selection of baked goods to Bearded Lady Roasters each day.


Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, Blueberry Streusel Muffins, White Chocolate Raspberry Scones, London Fog Scones, and Cinnamon Knots were available at Bearded Lady Roasters on the day that I went.



There was also a savory Bacon, Spinach, and Cheese Muffin, which I ordered to have for breakfast, along with my latte.



You can order traditional espresso drinks at Bearded Lady Roasters, or you can try one of their seasonal flavored coffee drinks. This winter’s flavors included The Log Cabin, made with espresso, maple syrup, and cocoa, and Winter Tonic, made with espresso, and elderberry and juniper tonic.



Bearded Lady Roasters also serves tea. Try one of the tea lattes, or the iced green or berry hibiscus teas.


When the weather is warmer, sample the refreshing seasonal lavender lemonade. It’s my daughter’s favorite summertime drink.


If you find yourself getting hooked on Bearded Lady Roasters’ coffee (and it’s likely that you will) but you can’t make it to the shop for your daily cup, you can buy some bags of coffee and bring them home, like the popular Espresso and Honduras varieties.




While you’re picking up some beans to bring home, check out the other local goods for sale at the shop, including coffee-brewing supplies, a variety of teas, local pottery,



and honey from Alchemist Haven (perfect for sweetening a cup of tea).



I’m glad I happened to be at Bearded Lady Roasters on the one-year anniversary at its current location. Seeing the coffee shop filled with patrons showed how much the community supports Adam and his mission to bring well-crafted coffee to Joplin.


We appreciate you, Adam, and your thriving business!



Bearded Lady Roasters is located at 218 South Main Street. To see its Facebook page, click here; to see its Instagram page, click here.


To read more about my adventures in the area, visit

Hackett Hot Wings

My husband Travis is not a picky eater. But when it comes to wings, he will only eat at Hackett Hot Wings.


He’s not the only one, either. Hackett’s has built a loyal following ever since Floyd and Jacqueline Hackett opened the restaurant in Joplin’s East Town in 2003, featuring hot wings inspired by the flavors of their home town of Memphis.



The restaurant quickly outgrew its space and moved downtown in 2008. Being on busy Main Street brought even more customers – and more fans.


In 2011, Hackett’s earned the top spot in 417 Magazine’s “5 Best Chicken Wings” article.


That’s the top spot in the region, not just in the city of Joplin.


And that’s impressive.


I recently joined Travis on a trip to Hackett’s during one of his hot-wing cravings. Personally, I prefer boneless white meat, like chicken breast, over wings, but guess what? Hackett’s accommodates people like me, too! You can order boneless chicken chunks or tenders prepared in the same way that you’d order chicken wings. So even if you don’t like wings, you can still experience the unique flavors of Hackett’s.


Although there’s parking available along Main Street, we parked in the lot behind the building and entered through the restaurant’s rear entrance. Since it was just me and Travis, we opted to sit in the sports room.


Had our kids been with us, we probably would have eaten in one of the two other dining rooms so they wouldn’t be distracted by all of the TV monitors and could actually focus on having a conversation with us.



But those TV monitors in the sports room sure come in handy during game days.



From nearly every vantage point, you can see a monitor, allowing you to keep up with your favorite team while visiting with your friends.


Travis and I each ordered a beer on tap to sip on while we looked through the menu. Hackett’s is a great place to visit for Happy Hour, as it offers a variety of draft and bottled beers, as well as cocktails and 14 signature drinks, including spiked lemonade (the non-alcoholic lemonade is tasty, too).


For an appetizer, we ordered the Fried Green Beans (you can order them prepared regular or spicy, and we ordered the spicy version). My daughter raves about these, so the plan was to taste a few and bring the rest home to her.


Things didn’t go according to plan.



Those fiery green beans dipped into the cool, creamy ranch dressing were so addicting that, by the time we took a break from stuffing ourselves, there were only three beans left; we figured that was too paltry a number to bring home, so we finished them off instead.


That decision did not earn us any points for Parents of the Year.


Yet we forged ahead and ordered our entrees. Travis ordered a combination of wings with the Season dry rub, and the Medium sauce, served with a side of crunchy carrots and celery tossed in flavorful spices.



There really are so many wing-eating options at Hackett’s. Do you like your wings dry? Wet? Mild? Hot? You can tailor your wing experience to your taste with Hackett’s five dry rub options (including the popular Lemon Pepper), and eight sauce options (the Hot & Honey is a favorite). If you find one you like, let Hackett’s know by voting for it here. If you’re out of town and hankering for a taste of Hackett’s you can shop online and have your favorite rub or sauce delivered to your door.


As for me, I wanted to capture the subtle fire of Hackett’s Medium sauce without ordering wings, so I opted for the chicken tender salad and I asked that the (enormous) tenders be tossed with the wing sauce.



Everyone’s happy, everyone wins.


And I mean everyone. If you’re not in the mood or chicken wings or tenders, order a burger, or the catfish dinner or pulled-pork dinner with a side of hushpuppies for a truly Southern experience.


While Hackett’s has a little something for everyone, for wing-lovers, Hackett’s has it all.


Hands down.


Hackett Hot Wings is located at 520 South Main in Joplin. Click here to visit its website, and click here to follow it on Facebook.


To read more about my adventures in the area, visit

Coffee Shops in Joplin

I’m lured by her sweet song more often than I care to admit.


Like countless others, I’m drawn to the irresistible sound of the siren that calls to me, enticing me with her assortment of caffeinated beverages nearly everywhere I go.


coffee starbucks


But, she’s beginning to bore me.


So I’ve been searching for alternatives for my Starbucks’ fix and I’ve found these coffee shops in Joplin that not only satisfy my caffeine craving, they offer a taste of local flavor, too.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is coffee-heart.png


Local Coffee Shops


Bearded Lady Roasters,  218 South Main Street

Bearded Lady’s owner Adam Francis roasts his own coffee beans, and is known for his excellent batch-brew coffee – his robust espresso drinks are pretty amazing, too.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bearded-lady-adam.png


Bearded Lady Roasters also shares its space with Frosted Cakerie, which provides a small variety of baked goods to the coffee shop every day, and once a week, fills its case with cupcakes, cookies, and other treats to sell to the public on Walk-In Wednesdays.


Caroline’s, 1027 South Main Street

Coffee or ice cream? Ice Cream or coffee? How about both?


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is carolines-onyx.png

Located on the first floor of the historic Gryphon Building, Caroline’s is a traditional ice cream parlor that also doubles as a coffee bar, serving hand-roasted, small batch coffee from Onyx Coffee Lab of northwest Arkansas.


The Coffee Shop at Joplin Greenhouse2820 East 32nd Street

For many years, Joplin Greenhouse has been supporting local businesses by carrying their products, and it continues to do so in The Coffee Shop. It was actually here that I tried a Dark Chocolate Cortado for the first time, and it was made with espresso from Bearded Lady RoastersThe Coffee Shop also serves coffee from Cottage Small Coffee Roasters from the nearby town of Carthage.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is greenhouse-sign-and-counter.png


What pairs well with a cup of great-tasting coffee? A puffle! Try one at The Coffee Shop, the only place in town that serves this slightly sweet, puffed waffle treat.


Joplin Avenue Coffee Company, 506 South Joplin Avenue

When I’m craving a traditional coffeehouse atmosphere, I’ll head downtown to Joplin Avenue Coffee Company. With its eclectic vibe, hip clientele, study nooks, and extensive list of caffeinated drinks, JACC makes for a cool writing spot.


coffee jac front


Zinc Coffee, 1825 South Main Street

Uniquely housed inside a former service station, Zinc Coffee is clean, bright, and cheerful, even on the gloomiest of days – a perfect spot in which to enjoy a high-quality, thoughtfully crafted beverage.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is zinc-plant-and-coffee.png


If you’re short on time, keep your motor running and take advantage of Zinc’s convenient drive-through to get your coffee on the go.


With so many local options for getting my coffee fix in Joplin, I can finally break off my (overly dependent) relationship with Starbucks.


So long, Siren.



*Starbucks’ image courtesy of


To read more about my adventures in the area, visit

The Pie Safe

Taking a bite of homemade pie is like taking a trip home. One taste of tender, flaky pie crust makes us think of our sweet, apron-clad grandma bustling about in her kitchen, pressing dough into a pan with her gently weathered hands, infusing love into her baked creations.


Pie has inhabited a special place at the American table, and at our family gatherings, for so long that it’s become more than a mere dessert item; it’s become a feeling.


There’s a bakery in Joplin that captures the essence of all that pies have to offer: the delicate crust, the sweet fillings, the warm comfort that you feel with each bite. This is The Pie Safe.



The modern exterior of this pie shop belies its vintage decor, with its faux, pressed-tin ceiling, crystal chandelier, tasseled drapes, and paintings with gilded frames.



It feels like stepping into grandma’s house, the perfect setting in which to enjoy a slice of pie and a cup of tea.



The Pies

The display case at The Pie Safe is stocked with a variety of 4-inch mini pies, an ideal size for sampling. On my first visit there, I selected four pies to bring home to share with my family: (clockwise, from the left) Pumpkin, Signature Blackberry, White Chocolate with Mountain Rose Apples (a seasonal pie topped with slices of an apple variety that has rose-colored flesh), and Vivian’s Pecan.


On a separate occasion, I brought home the Christmas Key Lime mini pie, with infused candied cranberries and Chantilly cream,


and the Good Cherry mini pie, because my daughter loves cherry pie.



Which one did I like the best? Geez, that’s like asking which one of my children is my favorite. Their unique qualities make them difficult to compare to one another, but they are all wonderful in their own ways (both the pies, and my kids).


But one thing is for sure: The crust on these babies is second to none (the pies, not my kids…I hope). Its buttery flakiness provides a solid foundation for the variety of delectable flavors that The Pie Safe offers.


Tasty Teas

The Victorian-inspired theme inside The Pie Safe makes it a nice spot to have a spot…of tea. The Pie Safe serves loose leaf teas from Savoy Tea Co. of Fayetteville, Arkansas, which sells fine teas from all over the world. You can even buy some in a charming decorative tin to take home with you.



When my husband, Travis, and I recently stopped by The Pie Safe, we ordered the tea flavors of the day; he ordered a cup of Savoy’s spicy Cinnamon Orange tea, which was served hot, while I ordered the yummy iced Caramel Buttercup tea, which I got from this beverage dispenser in this ornate niche.




You might think that, with all this pie and tea talk, that dessert is the only thing that’s served at The Pie Safe. But you would be wrong. This is a popular meeting place for lunch, too.


You can choose from chicken salad on a croissant or, if you are watching carbs, you can order it served the keto way – over romaine lettuce. In fact, there are many keto options on the menu here, both for lunch and for dessert.


But if you’re not watching carbs, try one of The Pie Safe’s rotating sandwich flavors, like the mouthwatering Turkey Panini, with homemade cranberry sauce (made with orange and pecans), Brie, spinach, and garlic aioli. Or, if you can’t resist eating at The Pie Safe without consuming something containing a scrumptious crust, try the Chicken Pot Pie, a 5-inch pie stuffed with chicken, celery, and carrots.



Or try the savory quiche, filled with artichokes, spinach, bacon, and cheddar.



It was so tasty, even my non-quiche-loving husband liked it.


Parties and Catering

If you are interested in having a tea party at The Pie Safe, complete with a real tea serving set, contact the shop for more details. If you’re planning a party at your own home and want to serve some goodies from The Pie Safe, then take a look at the special-order menu, which includes whole pies, 3-inch event pies, hand pies, blossoms, and cream puffs. Follow the Pie Safe on Facebook to find out when special treats become available, like the to-die-for sugarplums filled with buttercream.




Currently, The Pie Safe is open every week, Wednesday through Friday; occasionally it will be open on a Saturday, so check out its current posts on Facebook, or call before you go.


When you’re craving the comfort of an American pie, stop by The Pie Safe.


It’s the next best thing to your grandma’s kitchen.



The Pie Safe is located at 2129 South Main Street. Click here to follow it on Facebook. 


To read more about my adventures in the area, visit



Home for the Holidays

It’s like HGTV meets the History channel. Home for the Holidays, a tour of historic homes in Joplin, is inspirational and educational – and a tad voyeuristic, allowing our curious eyes to peek inside the walls of these well-crafted, one-of-a kind structures.


Held every other year, Home for the Holidays is organized by Historic Murphysburg Preservation, an organization that holds various events throughout the year at historic locations, opening them up to the public so that people can experience the richness of Joplin’s history in an immersive way.


This year’s Home for the Holidays tour was held on December 14 and included nine residences plus the tour headquarters, which was housed at Unity of Joplin – another historic structure. Tickets were available online or at Unity of Joplin, and participants received an informational brochure and map.


The tour included three different Joplin neighborhoods: Murphysburg, North Heights, and downtown Joplin.


The tour ran from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., a reasonable amount of time to walk through the houses, listen to the history of each location, and travel between stops. I started the tour about 2 p.m., and I was pushing it to finish by closing time. There’s just so much to soak in.

The Tour


Here’s a breakdown of the 2019 Home for the Holidays Tour:


Unity of Joplin, 204 North Jackson Avenue

Serving as the headquarters and ticket location for the tour, this building represents the Spanish Mission architectural style, and was built in 1911 as Calvary Baptist Church.



The Woman’s Club of Joplin moved into the building in 1930, and Unity of Joplin purchased it in 2012 and continues to occupy it today.



What struck me most about the interior are the timber ceiling beams and the breathtaking stained-glass windows, which fill the worship area with natural light.




The following four homes are located in Murphysburg, the first residential neighborhood established by the founders of Joplin. Many architectural styles are represented in this picturesque, 53-acre neighborhood, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (If you would like to explore this area in depth, here is a walking tour to use as a guide.)



Henderson House, 518 South Sergeant Avenue

Charles G. Henderson, President of S.C. Henderson Wholesale Grocery Co., built this home in 1917. With its dentil molding on the roofline, and gabled dormers, this home is an example of the Colonial Revival style.



These decorative windows added an eye-catching element to the main stairwell.




Frye/BaSom House, 318 South Sergeant Avenue

I have to admit that this has always been one of my favorite homes in Joplin. It just seems to exude pride in its alluring beauty.



Can you believe that it was built for just $5,000 back in 1891? That would be about $141,000 in 2019, and considering the craftsmanship I observed inside, that’s quite a steal, even by today’s standards!



The architectural style of this house is Second Empire, also known as Modern French, which was popular from 1865 to 1900. The home was built by Charles C. Frye, who moved to Joplin from New York to invest in the mining industry. In 1898, it was purchased by attorney Fred BaSom, who later organized Joplin Telephone Co., the first phone company in the city.


While there are many aspects of this home that I love, the coolest feature is the staircase hidden behind this mirror in the main hall.







Fischer House, 315 South Sergeant Avenue

Built by Julius Fischer in the 1880s, this is the oldest home in Murphysburg.



The original structure is a simple farmhouse style, and Tudor elements were added later. These photos show the different exteriors over time.


Here’s a notable (yet not-so-grand) fact about Julius Fischer: In 1890, he lost the Jasper County Clerk election to Mrs. Annie Baxter, making her the first female county clerk in the United States – and an important Joplinite. (Interesting coincidence: I’m typing this at the Joplin Public Library right now, and I just looked up to see a bust of Mrs. Annie Baxter in the Post Memorial Library section.)



Geddes House, 301 South Sergeant Avenue

This ornate beauty is an example of Queen Anne architecture.



It was built in the late 1890s by James I. Geddes, a newspaper owner and publisher, as well as an attorney, and an investment broker. Geesh! That’s one busy man. I hope he had time to enjoy the intricately detailed woodwork in the many rooms of his grand home.



I sure did.


North Heights


The next three homes are located in the North Heights neighborhood, located north of the Murphysburg district. Development in this residential area began after 1891, when this land was sold to the City of Joplin by the Granby Mining Co. (Every year in October, this charming neighborhood holds the popular North Heights Porchfest, a laid-back musical festival, which you can read more about here.)



Rogers House, 536 North Wall Avenue

Designed by esteemed local architect Austin Allen, this home was built in 1905 by Frederick H. Rogers, who worked in the lumber business, then moved to Joplin to become involved in the mining industry.



The interior of the home contains spectacular examples of hand carved woodwork throughout, including the stunning staircase,



and the mahogany ceiling beams and paneling in the dining room.




Beckham-Richardson House, 603 North Pearl Avenue

While the original owner and date of construction of this home are unknown, the current owner has embraced the unique interior elements of this home with a sense of whimsy.



It was fun exploring the nooks and crannies of this home and discovering surprises.




Cotton House, 602 N. Wall Avenue

Built by John A. Cotton in 1918, this house offers a fine example of a craftsman interior.



I liked how the current owners’ clean, modern decor paired well with the simple, yet exquisite, woodwork throughout the home.



Downtown Joplin


The next two residences on the tour were apartments located in downtown Joplin.



R&S Chevrolet Building, 214 East 4th Street

This building, constructed in 1909, is an example of Late-19th/Early-20th-Century Revival architecture.



It was built by Century Auto Co., which became R&S Motors in 1926 (owned by Bill Robertson and Winston Spurgeon).


When you see the apartments inside the building today, it’s hard to imagine that a motor company once operated here. Apartment #1A on the ground level was opened up for the tour, wowing visitors with its chic, urban interior design.



It truly looked like something from the pages of Architectural Digest.




Empire Block Building, 524 South Main Street

The next residence was a palatial two-story apartment which occupies the second and third levels of the Empire Block Building, located in the Joplin’s Downtown Sunshine Lamp Historic District.



Designed by architect Thomas R. Bellas, it was built in 1900 by brothers Charles and Oscar DeGraff, operators of Empire Mine.



The highlight of this apartment was the glass inserted into the floor of the upper-level walkway, allowing the light from above to filter through to the lower level, creating a bright space throughout.



It’s such a neat design concept, although I admit I felt a bit disoriented walking on a see-through floor.


I thoroughly enjoyed getting the opportunity to explore these homes, each of them brimming with history, and I’m already looking forward to the next Home for the Holidays tour.



Learn more about future events in Joplin’s historical districts on Historic Murphysburg Preservation’s website by clicking here, or on its Facebook page by clicking here.


To read more about my adventures in the area, visit

Zinc Coffee

I’m a sucker for windows. I crave natural light. Anywhere I go, I immediately seek out a spot near a window.


I especially need to be near one when writing. Being able to peer at the ever-shifting clouds, watch the movement of the wind through the trees, or follow the graceful flight of a flock of birds helps to spark a thought or two whenever I experience writer’s block.



So does coffee. Not just any coffee. Watery brown liquid mixed from powder will not do. I need the strong stuff, an elixir that is carefully crafted and not haphazardly mixed.


And when I drink delicious coffee while bathed in natural light, my soul sings.


Zinc Coffee is one place where I can capture this feeling.



The garage doors of this former service station have been converted into windows that reach from the ceiling to about a foot above the floor, allowing natural light to dance over the simple elements of the interior: the rough concrete floor, the warm, honey-colored wooden tables and chairs, and the crisp, white brick walls.



The effect is an environment that appears clean, bright, and cheerful, even on the gloomiest of days; a perfect spot in which to enjoy a thoughtfully crafted beverage.



The Drinks


Like the decor, the drink menu here is simple. The focus here is on the quality of the coffee itself, and Zinc uses beans from Onyx Coffee Lab, a Arkansas roaster, and Archetype Coffee, based in Omaha.



In addition to espressos and lattes, Zinc offers drip coffee and pour-overs. Pour-overs are individually made by pouring hot water over ground coffee in filter-lined cups. Pour-overs bring out the subtle flavors of the coffee, making them a great option for coffee connoisseurs with highly discerning palates.


I’d never tried a pour-over before, so I ordered the Ethiopia Bishan Fugu at Zinc which, according to the pour-over menu, presents subtle notes of lime, Concord grape, kombucha, and dark chocolate.


I was able to identify the taste of dark chocolate (I can recognize chocolate in anything), but that was the only flavor my unskilled taste buds could distinguish. I guess I’m used to my coffee flavors shouting at me rather than being delicate.


I found the robust quality that I crave in Zinc’s Lavender Latte, which was accented with a touch of herbal sweetness.



My husband Travis tried one of Zinc’s creative seasonal drinks, the Campfire Cappuccino. This dreamy cool-weather drink, served with torched marshmallows,  is made by soaking honey graham crackers in steamed milk to extract the flavor, then adding white and dark chocolate.



The staff here treats coffee like a science, and the Campfire Cappuccino is one of its successful lab experiments.


If dairy isn’t your thing, you can choose oat or almond milk to put in your coffee instead. If you’re watching your caffeine intake, you can order decaf espresso. If you prefer to have something besides coffee, Zinc offers loose leaf Rishi Tea, matcha drinks, smoothies, and golden lattes (made with tumeric, ginger, and steamed milk).



There’s also a small selection of pastries to snack on, as well as a variety of Mylk Labs oatmeal. And if you want a cross between a meal and a cup of coffee, try the decadent coffee shake.



The Space


Zinc opened in 2018 on Joplin’s historic Main Street.



Being housed in a former service station adds character to the interior. There’s the main room, the converted body shop, where you go to place your order. It’s filled with ample seating.


Next to that is a smaller room (the old office/waiting room, perhaps?) that contains more seating, as well as the barista counter – the coffee lab.




In the rear of the building, there’s an additional room that’s available to book.



Zinc is an excellent venue for meetings, study groups, or for mobile workers, like me. You can place your order at the counter, get the password for the secure Wi-Fi, then find a seat and start your meeting or project. Someone will bring your drink to you. Not having to wait at the counter for your individually crafted beverage is a nice perk of choosing Zinc.



Additional Perks

Fur babies are welcome at Zinc, too. Bring them with you inside the coffee shop, or let them lounge next to you under the covered patio when the weather is nice.


If you’re short on time, you can always grab a coffee from the drive-through, which is actually a door that your server will come through to take your order.



The drive-through process, as well as the parking situation, can be a bit confusing for a first-timer, so here’s a map that illustrates both.



Another question you may have is, “Why the name Zinc?” It’s a name that pays homage to the mineral that was mined in the area a century ago, and which brought prosperity to Joplin’s economy and helped construct our city.


Today, Zinc Coffee serves the fuel that sustains Joplin’s most important modern resource.


Its people.



Zinc Coffee is located at 1825 S. Main Street. Click here to visit its website, here to follow it on Facebook, and here to follow it on Instagram.


To read more about my adventures in the area, visit


It’s easy to support a local shop in Joplin when it’s comparable to – or even better than – stores that you find in bigger cities.


For me, that shop is Sophie.


Located in downtown Joplin, Sophie is a women’s boutique that offers the latest trends in footwear, clothing, accessories, and gifts at affordable prices.



I became an instant fan of the store when Ashley Wakefield, freshly graduated from college, opened her original store in a strip mall back in 2007. Ashley’s innate fashion sense, combined with her business skills, launched her formula for success in the retail industry.



On any given day, I know I can walk up to the wall of shoes at Sophie and find a pair to take home with me, a pair of shoes that is fashionable, comfortable, and reasonably price from brands such as Madeline, Corkys, and Chinese Laundry.



Footwear has been the focus of Sophie since its inception because it’s so inclusive. We humans come in all shapes and builds, but our shoe sizes remain fairly standard. When Ashley opened her boutique, she wanted to offer merchandise that fit most people, most of the time, so that they could feel well-dressed and confident.


Her mission has been a success. I can personally attest to that. Every time I wear a pair of shoes that I bought at Sophie, I feel more put-together because I know that my footwear is a product of Ashley’s rigorous vetting process.



Over the years, Ashley has expanded her inventory to include clothing as well, such as graphic tees, dresses, tops, and premium denim – all at economical price points.



At first glance, it may appear that the contemporary clothing at Sophie is comparable to what you can find in the junior section of a department store, as far as sizing goes, but that’s not the case. You don’t have to be a size zero to shop at Sophie; sizes here run up to XL, which is similar to 1X in plus sizing.



Also, two of the affordable premium denim brands that Sophie carries, Articles of Society and Dear John, offer a more adult fit, which allows for those natural curves that most women (like those of us who are not runway models) have. These jeans run up to sizes 31/32, which roughly converts to standard sizes 12/14.



And, if you’re overwhelmed by all of the choices, the friendly staff members at Sophie will help put together some chic looks just for you, capped off by some of the accessories sold in the store, like jewelry from Shira Melody and local artisan Keona Elise.



Signature bracelet stacks and other wearables from Beljoy are very popular with Sophie’s customers.



Beljoy is a company founded by local jewelry designer Abby Clevenger, and its products are crafted by women in Haiti. By locating production in Haiti, Beljoy creates jobs in that impoverished country, and helps generate income for female artisans.



It comes as no surprise to me that Ashley supports other local entrepreneurs by selling their products in her store. Creating connections and empowering other local businesses adds to her formula for success.


So, too, does her online store. If you don’t get a chance to stop by the store in person, you can do so virtually by clicking here.


But if you have the time, head downtown and shop at the boutique that has received over 32,000 followers on its Facebook page. That’s a lot of fans. While you’re at the brick-and-mortar store, visit the clearance corner, pick out a Style Grab Bag to take home, then unwrap it like it’s Christmas morning.


No matter what surprise merchandise is inside, it will be fashionable. Guaranteed.



Because it was selected by Ashley, Joplin’s very own fashion guru.


Sophie is located at 531 South Main Street. Click here to view its website, and click here to follow it on Facebook page.


To read more about my adventures in the area, visit