Category Archives: Restaurant memories

Waiting for news on Joplin’s finest dining

Fred & Red was (is??) at 1719 S. Main in Joplin.

I’m back from a little weekend adventure in Joplin that I’d rather not relive ever, ever again.

And now that I am back and coming down from the ordeal, my mind keeps drifting to Joplin. My mom grew up there, and as a kid, I spent every Thanksgiving and much of my summer visiting all my grandparents and aunts and uncles there.

Even as a kid, restaurants were important to me. I lived in Dodge City, where the arrival of Applebee’s in the mid-1990s was beyond huge dining news. So I considered Joplin to be the ultimate fine dining destination. At my insistence, every single trip there included a visit to Red Lobster, where I’d eat cheesy biscuits until I couldn’t move. My grandpa — he died a few years ago — always paid the tab.

My parents also were big on Fred & Red Chili, a greasy spoon diner that, sort of like NuWay, had just a horseshoe shaped bar for seating. (Anthony Bourdain featured in in an episode of “No Reservations” earlier this year.)

Fred & Red specialized in chili, specifically chili poured over tamales and chili poured over spaghetti. The spaghetti concoction is called “spaghetti red” and my mom made it for dinner all the time when I was growing up. “Can’t remember a time they were not there,” my mom said in a text message last night. “Dad says 50 or 60 years.” Actually, Fred and Red opened in 1923 and moved to its Main Street location in 1943. Mom and dad hadn’t even been born.

I’ve scoured the internet today and am getting conflicting reports about whether Red Lobster or Fred & Red survived. I so hope they did.

I also got a kind note yesterday from Scott Redler, one of the founders of Freddy’s Frozen Custard. He knew my family was from Joplin, and we’d often talk about how much he liked it there. (He once had a Timberline in Joplin as well.) The Joplin Freddy’s was destroyed in the storm, though none of the employees or customers were hurt.

I’ll update this post when I get a firm answer on Red Lobster and Fred & Red.

*Update: I just got a response from a Joplin-ite on a Facebook forum, who says Red Lobster is standing. She saw it with her own eyes. Yay!

**Update No. 2: Helpful blog reader TJW pointed me to this picture, which clearly shows Fred & Red still standing. It’s to the right in the frame below. You can recogize the sign. Whew!

Fred & Red is visible on the right of this picture. It's still standing!

Question of the week: What are your Larkspur memories?

A restaurant can’t thrive in a city for 20 years without creating a few memories for its residents.

Maybe it’s because it’s right across the street from where I work, but I have more than a few personal memories associated with Larkspur, which is celebrating 20 years of business starting this year. (Read my hot-off-the-editor’s-desk story about Larkspur here.)

I bid professional farewells to more than a few fabulous co-workers in that restaurant, including former symphony writer Chris Shull and movie reviewer Bob Curtright.

I watched my best friend Jaime’s new boyfriend (now husband) serenade her at Larkspur’s grand piano one night a few years ago.

I have spent countless lunch hours eating Metro salads and tirimisu by the window with Bonnie, and I let more than a few tears flow into my Sauvignon Blanc under the protective wisteria ceiling of Larkspur’s beautiful patio.

I know I’m not the only one. What are some of your best Larkspur memories? Share in the comments section below.

Happy birthday to Larkspur

Ty Issa has owned Larkspur for the second half of its 20-year life.

I spent my morning with Ty Issa across the street at Larkspur, reminiscing about the long run his popular downtown restaurant has had. They’re starting their 20th year of business this month, which is quite a feat for any restaurant.

To celebrate, Ty is putting on a customer appreciation party from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19. The event will be on the patio and in the banquet hall, and he’ll have free appetizers, drinks and music.

My dining story for this Friday will be about Larkspur’s big birthday, so before I went to visit with Ty this morning, I dug up the restaurant review we published when it first opened back in 1992. Very few of the original dishes remain, but it was a fun read. Plus, my late friend Diane Lewis wrote the review, and I can hear her voice in it. Thought you all might enjoy it. Keep reading.

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Edible memories

Ah, the Innes Tea Room -- a place where tired shoppers could don their white gloves and break for a lovely lunch. It's one of many restaurants Wichitans have said they miss.

Ah, the Innes Tea Room -- a place where tired shoppers could don white gloves and break for a lovely lunch. It's one of many restaurants Wichitans have said they miss.

The biz team has been dreaming for a few days now about restaurants Wichitans wish they had, which got me to thinking about one of my favorite topics — restaurants Wichitans wish they STILL had.

Back in 2004, I did a story about long-gone but beloved Wichita restaurants, and reporting it had a lasting effect on me. For months afterward, I wished I could invent a culinary time machine so I could — just once — taste the lamb shank at Cafe Chantilly or wear white gloves while nibbling little sandwiches at the Innes Tea Room.

Other restaurants readers mentioned: Albert’s, Pasta Mill, the Looking Glass, Hickory House, Mr. Dunderback’s and more.

What gone-but-not forgotten restaurants do you most  miss? (I’m sure we all can agree to add Angelo’s to the list now.) Let’s start a discussion in the comments.