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Monday, February 23, 2015

A Transformation in the Joplin Restaurant Scene: Bittersweet Fairwell to a Joplin Fixture and Hello to Local Pizza!

There are changes coming to the Joplin restaurant scene!

It's a bittersweet ending to a restaurant that has stood strong through difficult economic times, and a highly competitive food market. It was announced on Facebook, yesterday, that Mike and Marsha Pawlus are bringing their 29 year tenure of The Kitchen Pass to a close.
 I spoke to Marsha this morning about their decision to close the Joplin icon.
"It has been a wild ride, but it seems like just yesterday," said Marsha.
Marsha recalled how when Kitchen Pass opened 29 years ago, there was an absence of competition in the Joplin market. There were scary times along the way, though, including economic downturns and the increase of restaurant openings. She remembered the day Applebee's opened, and how empty her establishment was. However, in a few days, her loyal clientele returned, and it was business as usual.
With such a melancholy decision, Mike and Marsha are sad about closing down such a loved place, but are excited to begin a new chapter in their lives: semi-retirement.
"It will be nice to go from 14 hour days down to an 8 hour day."
They are ready to have a bit more time to themselves, and to enjoy their growing family. Their girls have their own businesses to run, so passing down the business was never really a legitimate option. Her daughters saw all the hardships in nearly three decades of the restaurant business, and developed a strong work ethic as a result.
Marsha said it really hit home, yesterday, when they announced to their crew of approximately 21 people that they would be closing. As with any great restaurant owner, Marsha is concerned about leaving her staff without employment. That's a great trait in a business owner and manager!
Now, you may have noticed, I said "SEMI-retirement" above. Mike and Marsha will still own and operate Wilder's Steakhouse, along with The Bypass for events.
Kitchen Pass will be open until March 7th, but will begin a more limited menu starting this Wednesday, February 25th, with many KP favorites making an appearance. And tonight will be the next to last of the crowd favorite 2-4-1 Mondays at the Kitchen Pass.
Marsha said her phone has been ringing off the hook all morning, since the announcement went out across social media, yesterday. She said the calls and visitors to the restaurant have been very heartwarming and really shows what kind of impact Mike and her have had, through the Kitchen Pass. She expects to see many more faces from the past, customers and former employees, roll in over the next 12 days to enjoy KP for one final time, and to pay their respects and appreciation to the Pawlus family!
Running a restaurant is a difficult business, and making it succeed for 29 years is an amazing feat! Many people who work in those kind of family owned places basically grow up there. I have a feeling, many, many people have grown up and come to age in the kitchen and Front of House of The Kitchen Pass. Thank you, Mike and Marsha for all the great years!  
So... That leaves an empty restaurant spot in the heart of Joplin's Main Street. Enter the Millers.

Jason and Suzanne Miller, owners of Instant Karma Gourmet Hot Dogs and Joplin Eagle Drive In, have been instrumental in changing the local flavor of Joplin. Instant Karma kickstarted a catalysis that has transformed not only the Downtown Joplin area, but the entire food scene of the city. Their Joplin Eagle Drive In sits in the Southtown region of Joplin. Now, the Millers are about to help give a more distinct identity to Midtown Joplin.
After receiving a call from Mike and Marsha Pawlus in early February, the Millers went to work fervently to take advantage of the opportunity. And it was a whirlwind of activity that led to their newest venture.
Midtown Pizza Kitchen is taking over the lease at 1212 South Main Street, moving into the Kitchen Pass restaurant and bar. Jason is hoping to have MPK open by the first week of April.
Midtown Pizza Kitchen will be a family style pizza place, serving New York style pizza prepared in old fashioned pizza ovens. They will be using imported Italian tomatoes, handmade crust, the best cheese and toppings, and all made from scratch. Midtown will also serve a selection of great pasta, Chicago style Italian sandwiches, and salads.

From the looks of some of the teaser photos MPK is posting of their recipe development, their pizza looks amazing!
The Millers and looking to repeat the success they have found in their other establishments, and hope to rebrand the Midtown neighborhood, giving the area its own identity.
I look forward to seeing what Midtown Pizza Kitchen has to offer, and how its opening will affect that part of Main Street.
Stay tuned to Frank About Food for more details as they develop, and keep an eye on the Midtown Pizza Kitchen Facebook page.


1 comment:

  1. Mike and Marsha deserve a gold star for hanging in there through it all and providing the Joplin area with a great eatery all these years!