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Winds of change blow into Springfield restaurant scene

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Springfield area restaurant owners are gearing up for what is historically the busiest dining season of the year. And springtime has brought with it winds of change for the restaurant biz. Here's what's happening in area dining rooms.|ret||ret||tab|

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Coyote's Nixa Grill |ret||ret||tab|

David Bauer's coyotes are headed south to Nixa. Bauer, owner of Coyote's Adobe Caf and Mille's in Springfield, is creating a spin-off of Coyote's in Nixa, called Coyote's Nixa Grill. |ret||ret||tab|

It is planned to open next month at 807 N. Main St., formerly China Star restaurant. Bauer is renovating the 2,500-square-foot strip center end cap space with a new bar, raised ceilings and several televisions.|ret||ret||tab|

The restaurant will open with Coyote's new menu, which the Springfield site will adopt as well. Bauer is adding wraps, sandwiches and salads; he said 25 percent of the menu will be southwestern dishes. Nixa's specialty will be a new hot wing flavor Bauer has appropriately called Nixie Chics.|ret||ret||tab|

Bauer has been eyeing a Nixa location for eight years. "I've always enjoyed watching Nixa grow. There are a lot of homes being built out there," Bauer said.|ret||ret||tab|

Bauer is developing Coyote's Nixa as a family eating place.|ret||ret||tab|

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Metro Station |ret||ret||tab|

For those seeking something different, Metro Station owner Greg Hill says his eclectic Commercial Street eatery is the place.|ret||ret||tab|

Hill and Rob Mackie opened Metro Station in early April in the space formerly occupied by Sonja Lallemand's French eatery Caf Du Nord.|ret||ret||tab|

Hill said the "meat-and-potatoes place" features a basic lunch menu with steak and chicken sandwiches, burgers and quiche, while dinner options are more extensive.|ret||ret||tab|

Mary Collette, owner of the Metro Station building at 312 E. Commercial St., believes dining establishments are needed in the area. She was disappointed to see Lallemand leave, but she is pleased to have another restaurateur fill the void.|ret||ret||tab|

"This area is underserved in terms of restaurants," Collette said. "I do think that you have to build the demand, and I think Sonja helped do that. I think it is going to be a little bit easier for whoever else comes in because of what Sonja did here."|ret||ret||tab|

Hill is excited about the new city sidewalks under construction in front of his place, which will be lighted by antique-style lampposts. |ret||ret||tab|

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Mike's Place Grill & Pub |ret||ret||tab|

After six years at 2185 S. Campbell, Mike's Place Grill &Pub, a supper club known for its steaks, is moving to 1717 E. Cherokee St., near Glenstone. The Campbell location closes April 26 and the new club opens May 5, said Nancy Lacey, co-owner with her husband, Mike.|ret||ret||tab|

The move, which will grow seating from 60 to 100, was originally inspired by the city's smoking ban proposal, Lacey said. |ret||ret||tab|

Before Springfield City Council outlawed smoking in restaurants with more than 50 seats, the Laceys were preparing for a bigger space that they could separate into smoking and nonsmoking areas.|ret||ret||tab|

"Now we don't have to worry about that," she said. Lacey said Mike's Place will eliminate smoking in the restaurant when the ban goes into effect in July.|ret||ret||tab|

"We will not do it a minute before because we do have quite a few smoking patrons come in," she said. |ret||ret||tab|

The Laceys are considering some outdoor seating at the new location for smoking patrons. Other changes to the old Pizzaro's Pizza space are brick and cedar interior walls and a fireplace.|ret||ret||tab|

There will be live music six nights a week. |ret||ret||tab|

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Nakato Japanese Steak House |ret||ret||tab|

Come May, Nakato sushi lovers will be served their favorite fish fresh off the boat literally.|ret||ret||tab|

Joe Nakato, co-owner and manager of the Springfield restaurant, said a 2,600-square-foot, $450,000 addition under progress includes an oval-shaped sushi bar with a water-filled moat around it. Floating boats will carry sushi selections to customers seated at the bar. "You (can) pick off what you want when the sushi comes around," Nakato said. |ret||ret||tab|

The family-owned and -operated Nakato restaurants in Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., already feature the water bars, Nakato said.|ret||ret||tab|

Other renovations include 50 more dining area seats, for nearly 200 in all, and a 40-person private dining room. The new dining area will be available by June, Nakato said, and the sushi bar is scheduled for completion later this summer.|ret||ret||tab|

The new sushi bar will seat 30 and complement the restaurant's 15-seat bar. |ret||ret||tab|

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Nonna's Bambino |ret||ret||tab|

Downtown Springfield restaurant pioneer Mary Faucett has taken Bambino's Caf under her wing and renamed it Nonna's Bambino, which is "grandma's baby" in Italian.|ret||ret||tab|

Faucett already operates Nonna's Italian American Caf on South Avenue and Nonna's Bakery & Market around the corner on McDaniel Street. She took over Bambino's from her son Andy Faucett, and his partners Brian Ash and John and Christi Sweaney after purchasing $51,500 of outstanding notes the partners had on the business.|ret||ret||tab|

Bambino's opened in Springfield in 2001 at 1141 E. Delmar, which used to be McSalty's Pizza.|ret||ret||tab|

Mary Faucett's son Jeremy runs Nonna's Bambino, while Faucett "macro-manages" both of her restaurants. "I leave the details up to Jeremy at Bambino's and my son Dave at Nonna's," she said. "I basically take care of all the troubleshooting."|ret||ret||tab|

The Faucett family has been in the restaurant business for 12 years. |ret||ret||tab|

Nonna's Bambino's pasta-heavy menu will not change, she said.|ret||ret||tab|

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Nutty Munkey|ret||ret||tab|

Nutty times are ahead at Kickapoo Corners. A new frozen custard shop, Nutty Munkey, will open there at the end of May and bring with it tropical music, palm trees and a frozen custard-loving monkey that the company drew its name from.|ret||ret||tab|

The jungle-themed custard stand is under construction in the Kickapoo Corners out lot at 3558 S. Campbell Ave.|ret||ret||tab|

It's the first Springfield location for Nutty Munkey LLC, which is based here, but it's the second store of its kind. Nutty Munkey opened in Altus, Okla., in August.|ret||ret||tab|

"It was very successful so we said, We need to do one in our own backyard,'" said Malissa Hauswirth, Nutty Munkey marketing director.|ret||ret||tab|

Outdoor seating will be available, while orders are placed inside the 1950s-style stand, which has a soda fountain theme, or through the drive-up window, Hauswirth said. |ret||ret||tab|

"Everything is made right in front of you. You walk down a line and they make it," she said. "We're really excited about the concept."|ret||ret||tab|

Nutty Munkey's signature flavor is vanilla, but chocolate and seasonal flavors such as pumpkin pie, candy cane and apple pie also will be available. Hauswirth said waffle cones, shortcake, cookies and brownies are made on site.|ret||ret||tab|

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