Wally Kennedy: Beef-A-Roo moving into Joplin, Southwest Missouri

Apr. 26—When it comes to roast beef sandwiches, there soon will be a new player in Joplin's restaurant market.

Beef-A-Roo, known for its slow-roasted beef sandwiches, cheddar fries and burgers, has taken over the former Hardee's restaurant at 1810 S. Main St. Work to convert the building to the Beef-A-Roo's style began months ago. No word yet on when the restaurant will open.

The opening of this restaurant in Joplin is part of a bigger push by Beef-A-Roo to expand outside of its home base of Rockford, Illinois. The company now has 18 locations, including two recent ones in Springfield and one on the way in Branson. The company's expressed goal is to open 50 restaurants over the next three to five years.

In addition to burgers and sandwiches at reasonable prices, the menu features wraps, a selection of salads and several sides, including steamed broccoli and loaded baked potatoes. There's a kids menu and a breakfast menu has just debuted in the Rockford region, where the company was founded in 1967.

Another interesting feature is the offering of daily specials. You can see what the special is ahead of time by visiting the Beef-A-Roo website.

Fast-food analysts are saying this is a company to watch, ranking it in the top 40 of promising new franchises.

And the winner is ...

A food truck staple — carnitas mulitas — from Ghetto Tacos stole the show when the Food Network came to Joplin to film the "Best Bite in Town."

After sampling bites from Han the Sushi Man, Blackstone Gastropub, the Hungry Monkey, Big R's BBQ, Finn's and Ghetto Tacos, the judges recommended as finalists the dishes from Han, Blackstone and Ghetto Tacos. The carnitas mulitas from Ghetto Tacos won the $5,000 prize. A local charity also received $5,000.

On his Facebook page, the owner, Marcos Renteria, who started his food truck eight years ago, said: "We are so blessed and honored to be named Food Network 'Best Bite' in Joplin. We want to say a huge thank you to all of the judges, and the rest of the bite club, along with the entire crew of Food Network! We also want to give our biggest thank you to our amazing family and loyal customers."

Renteria, who operates a restaurant at 530 NE St. in Webb City and a food truck at 2128 S. Main St. in Joplin, recognized the other local restaurants that were showcased in the April 19 episode as outstanding examples of the cuisine Joplin has to offer.

How did the episode affect his business?

His response: "Oh my God. I never expected it to be that quick. It started the very next day. It's been an awesome experience. We have never seen numbers like this."

He's not kidding. I passed by the food truck on South Main on Wednesday and Thursday of this week and the business was brisk.

For the record, the winning carnitas mulitas were prepared at the food truck.

ArtWalk resumes

The First Thursday ArtWalk will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. this Thursday in downtown Joplin.

Joining the lineup of venues is a new art gallery, the Keystone Gallery at 401 S. Main St. It features the work of 22 artists. Meet painter Nova Kidd, and graphic artists Jory Mertens and Niko Bowman. Watch a live demo by Rhonda Kidrick doing acrylic pour paintings. Register for a door prize.

Another type of arts venue, a children's book writer's studio, will be featured in a storefront at 413 S. Main St., where you can meet author and illustrator Isaiah Basye.

PhotoSpiva 2024 will be featured in the galleries of Spiva Center for the Arts in the Cornell Complex, 212 W. Seventh St. Also on display is a juried show of Four States Photography Enthusiasts.

At the Joplin Avenue Coffee Co., 506 S. Joplin Ave., paintings by Philip Ledbetter will be on display. The artisan market features Rachel Cabral, Diane Simonds, Dan Trogdon and others. Music by Dwayne Smith.

At the Urban Art Gallery, 511 S. Main St., Amber Mintert, an MSSU instructor, will show her mixed media works. A reception is planned. Photography by Linda Teeter and mixed media works by Stacy Heydt and other artisans will be shown. Music will be by Tough Luck Chuck.

At 530 Somewhere, 530 S. Main St., the works of artist Merlen White will be shown. A reception is planned.

Contact Wally Kennedy at wkennedy@joplinglobe.com.