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Opinion: With marijuana incoming, Springfield’s got the munchies

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With a medical marijuana article topping SBJ.net’s list of the most read articles of 2019, and several food stories to follow, there’s but one conclusion to make: Interest in the devil’s lettuce is high, and Springfield has the munchies.

Kidding aside, Springfield Business Journal has covered much of the state’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry, and it’s clear the business community is watching. And with hundreds of restaurants in Springfield, it’s no surprise that food news dominated the list.

Let’s dive in to the top 10 most read stories of 2019.

1. “Canna Bliss buys lot for medical marijuana dispensary”

Highest on our list is businesswoman Jamie Tillman’s Canna Bliss LLC picking up a former gas station near the intersection of Battlefield Road and National Avenue. Tillman is planning a medical marijuana dispensary at the location, though dispensary licenses aren’t slated to be revealed until next month. With 2020 bringing the full rollout of medical marijuana in Missouri, expect next year’s most read list to include more on this industry.

2. “Red’s Giant Hamburg making a comeback”

Food and nostalgia come together here to pack a punch. Thirty-five years after the iconic Springfield restaurant closed, business partners David Campbell and Greg Iott brought back Red’s Giant Hamburg.

Opening in August at 2301 W. Sunshine St., the restaurant is complete with the famous signage and Buick, historical photos and a drive-thru window. While not actually on Route 66, the Mother Road’s presence is strong at the eatery.

3. “Darr sells companies for $900M”

Southwest Missouri businessman Bill Darr’s American Dehydrated Foods and International Dehydrated Foods businesses are now under the ownership of Germany-based Symrise AG. The $900 million transaction closed in November, marking one of the biggest deals for a Springfield company. Darr founded ADF/IDF in 1978, building the meat and egg-based protein provider to annual sales of $220 million in 2018.

4. “Jimmy Buffett eatery lands in Branson”

Branson Landing patrons were ready and willing to waste away again in Margaritaville with the opening of a Jimmy Buffett-inspired, beach-themed eatery in February. LandShark Bar & Grill, with menu items influenced by Buffett songs, overlooks Lake Taneycomo.

5. “Keller Williams agents break off to start new company”

The Adam Johnson Team at Keller Williams Greater Springfield in January announced the launch of Alpha Realty MO LLC. Co-owners Adam Johnson and Aaron Owens brought a team of real estate agents together for a fresh brokerage. While it didn’t make the top 10, another impactful real estate story of 2019 was the introduction of AMax Real Estate and the end of Coldwell Banker Vanguard in Springfield. Look for these firms to continue to make headlines.

6. “Springfield awarded $21M grant”

Placemaking is one of those buzzwords that kept popping up in 2019, and this grant is all about it. Via federal funds, the city and partner organizations will build a greenway trail system between downtown and Bass Pro Shops along Grant Avenue. It means an extra tool for city promoters, as Springfield seeks to attract and retain top young professionals.

7. “Report: What’s the poorest town in Missouri?”

This one is actually a summary of a 24/7 Wall St. article for SBJ’s Today in Business e-newsletter, but it’s worthy of mention for the sheer amount of views it received. Google “poorest town in Missouri” and SBJ.net will pop up near the top with this article. Thanks, Google.

8. “Discount chain plans Springfield market entry”

Philadelphia-based discount store chain Five Below Inc. (Nasdaq: FIVE) is known, as its name implies, for items priced at $5 or lower. The first in Springfield opened in Primrose Marketplace, followed by a launch later in the year in Springfield Plaza. Anecdotally, Five Below is sort of like an in-person Wish app experience, but not in a bad way.

9. “The Big Biscuit plans 2 Springfield restaurants”

Springfield continues to be a target market for restaurant operators in other parts of the country. The Big Biscuit came by way of the Kansas City area to Brentwood South and Kickapoo Corners. Haven’t tried this one yet, but I’m told the biscuits are, in fact, large.

10. “Manager found dead at downtown club”

Staff members were in shock when their manager was found dead inside downtown music venue The Complex Springfield. Chris Toth, 26, was located Aug. 1 by police inside the 307 Park Central East club with a gunshot wound. A Utah concept, The Complex came to town in early 2018. Since the incident, at least two shows have been canceled, and the venue’s Facebook page has been inactive for months.

Springfield Business Journal Web Editor Geoff Pickle can be reached at gpickle@sbj.net.

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