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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I opted for this refreshing Hefeweizen from KC while my husband Travis chose a draft beer.
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.
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.
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.
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…
…and a couch lounge.
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):
Another feature that Social TBT offers is outdoor seating.
I love eating outdoors whenever possible, and I’m always searching for restaurants that have this option.
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.
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.
To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.