By Savanah Mandeville
Photos by Mandy Edmonson
On any given Friday or Saturday night, Club 609 is one of the most poppin’ places in town.
Rewind 30 years, and that was exactly the case in 1990.
“We held our grand opening night in September with friends and family to kick off our business, and it was a huge success!” said owner Linda Williams. “The early days were a really exciting time.”
It’s hard to imagine anything other than Club 609 at 609 S. Main Street in Joplin, but back then, the building housed The Needle Nook. Linda Williams and her cousin, Ted Monsour, found the old building downtown and immediately had a vision for what it could look like with the original brickwork and ceiling restored.
“It took major renovations to turn it into a functioning restaurant, but it was well worth it,” Williams said.
Today and always, Club 609 is a family effort. Many of Club 609’s long-time patrons probably remember Keith and Dollie Williams’ smiling faces at the end of the bar every time they visited the restaurant. Perhaps some Joplinites remember when Linda’s brother, Steve, wasn’t full time but was always on hand to help on evenings and weekends.
“My dad, Keith, bussed tables and my mom, Dollie, worked the crowd,” Linda said. “Ted, Susan and Victoria Monsour coordinated with local artists to display their work for sale, they changed decor and artwork several times a year. In short, it was a huge family effort every day!”
Today, Club 609 is still family-owned-and-operated. Steve came onboard full time in 2002, and now, the restaurant even has a third generation with Linda’s son, Zach, working in the restaurant every day.
“We couldn’t have done this without all the people who’ve been part of it,” Linda said. “I think, first, because our parents instilled our work ethic in us. We were raised to get up every day and go to work. Also, we have always hired the best people possible. When I opened Club 1201 in 1997, having dual responsibilities running both restaurants was so hard. I couldn’t have done it without my managers at Club 609, Debra Randolph and Marva Edwards.”
One of the challenges any long-running business faces is keeping up with the times. Linda said she owes part of the restaurant’s continued popularity to knowing what to change and what to leave the same.
“Every year is a new challenge to keep things fresh and exciting menu-wise, decor-wise and everything else that goes with running a restaurant,” she said. “We always try to stay fresh and adapt to the current economic climate while striving to be loyal to our community, family, friends and employees.”
Despite the challenges, Linda and Steve agreed having Club 609 has been a whole lot of fun and a gigantic blessing.
“We are very, very humbled,” Linda said. “We’ve met lifelong friends. We never take it for granted.”