Wally Kennedy: After 5 years, Zinc Coffee on Main changes owners

Mar. 22—Zinc Coffee, 1825 S. Main St., was set to close on March 31, but some loyal caffeine consumers have intervened. Joplin photographers Joe and Hope Szklarski have purchased the coffee shop and plan to be brewing without interruption on April 1.

Zinc, with its crisp black and white look, opened five years ago in a renovated service station that would expand to include a storefront north of it at 1821 S. Main St. The shop recently announced via Facebook that it was closing, in part, because there "are tons of great coffee shops in Joplin that weren't here when Zinc started, and we are confident you will be served well by them."

At least a half-dozen stand-alone, drive-thru coffee shops have opened in Joplin, Webb City and Airport Drive in the last five years, and more are on the way.

Joe Szklarski said, "Zinc offers drive-thru convenience, but it's also a really good place to sit down and have a cup of coffee. That's the heart of Zinc, it's a nice sit-down experience with all kinds of people."

A native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Szklarski's first visit to Joplin was with a youth group that helped with cleanup after the 2011 tornado. He would meet his wife while attending Ozark Christian College. He said they plan to give Zinc the "love and attention" it needs to flourish.

Restaurant reopens

The El Vallarta Mexican Restaurant reopened last week in the Range Line Marketplace shopping center at 2330 S. Range Line Road.

A fire erupted in the rear of the restaurant during the lunch hour on April 13 last year. There were no injuries. The fire, caused by combustible materials stored too close to a heat source, was brought under control within 30 minutes of firefighters arriving at the scene. The restaurant has been closed since then for repairs.

It's pretty clear when you walk through the front door that the old El Vallarta has been revived with some fresh coats of paint. The place is bright and colorful, and inviting. There was no smell of smoke from the fire.

A server there told me the restaurant has the same menu and same recipes as before. I ordered a lunch special for $6.99 that included a cheese enchilada, beans and rice. It was exactly as I had remembered it. In addition to the complimentary chips and salsa, I always ask for the hot sauce that El Vallarta serves with some of its dishes. It's really hot and it's really good.

Hours are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday through Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday.

Openings ahead

Expect to see some big openings in Joplin in the weeks ahead.

Ollie's Bargain Outlet, the nation's largest retailer of closeout merchandise and excess inventory, could open on or about April 17 in the former Slumberland furniture store at 1329 S. Range Line Road. It's in the same shopping center as Hobby Lobby.

The set-up process to open the store began this week. About 55 to 60 people have been hired. The business now has more than 500 stores in 30 states, and is continuing to grow.

Also opening will be the new Menards home-improvement store at 32nd Street and Hammons Boulevard, and the new Whataburger at 2014 S. Range Line Road. Menards, which has been hiring since January, could open in mid-April. The Whataburger, also hiring since January, could open at any time.

Contact Wally Kennedy at wkennedy@joplinglobe.com.