Date: April 17, 2017 | Photography: Rett Peek, Matt Johnson, Courtest of Downtown Conway Partnership |
Known as the City of Colleges, or perhaps better known for its nickname, The City of Roundabouts, exciting things in Conway keep visitors circling back for more
Brewing for Good
What’s in a cup of coffee? If you ask Blue Sail Coffee, the answer is opportunity—in large numbers. “Coffee is a part of our everyday lives. And for some of us, it is definitely more than one cup a day,” Stormie Perry, Blue Sail Coffee’s Director of Marketing & Social Media, says.
Blue Sail Coffee is a growing business offering ethically sourced, locally roasted coffee. “We believe that we can help change the community in a positive manner through our passion for the coffee culture,” Perry says. “We believe that coffee doesn’t just begin and end with the barista, but it begins with the coffee farmers in other nations.” With direct-trade partnerships in Burundi, Columbia, Ethiopia, and others, Blue Sail is committed to educating consumers, and, in turn, helping the economy of these nations and their farmers.
Kyle Tabor, company owner and founder, opened the original downtown Conway location in 2014. With few start-up resources, guests fell in love with the cozy atmosphere for socializing and studying, and Blue Sail began to soar. Now, state of the art espresso machines, live music, local art, and more, can be found at their three locations: downtown Conway, midtown Conway, and downtown Little Rock. Blue Sail offers an alternative experience to the standard grab-and-go coffee shop. Adding to its uniqueness, Perry shares some fun facts: “We are the first coffee shop in Arkansas to pull espresso from a Slayer Espresso machine—one of the best on the market—and we offer a small discount for riding a bike,” she adds.
Need a bite with your latte? Blue Sail Midtown at Donaghey Hall on the University of Central Arkansas campus serves made-from-scratch brunch with quality local products.
New Kid on the Block
Not many restaurants can say they started in a parking lot. From humble beginnings in Blackwell, Arkansas, to becoming a legend in Russellville, a unique flavor put Fat Daddy’s BBQ on the map. Today, Conway patrons can experience the history and cuisine. “We wanted to be a part of Conway’s vibrant downtown and the growth that has been going on here,” manager Blake Shirron says.
A fun atmosphere and good food, of course, make this a must-visit spot and you can guarantee you won’t leave hungry. Fat Daddy’s guests will also feel right at home with their unique hours of business. “We open the doors Monday thru Saturday at 10:30 am. We do not necessarily have a closing time. We let the customers decide what time we close. If we are busy, the doors will stay open.”
“Hanging Out” at Donaghey Hall
Located at the corner of Donaghey and Bruce on the University of Central Arkansas campus, Donaghey Hall—a multi-use space blending student living, dining, retail, and more—is visually appealing, convenient for students and locals, and a symbol of Conway’s growth.
But perhaps the most eye-catching part of the building is its permanent resident: Otis the Bear. Scaling the walls of this hangout spot, Otis is made of stainless steel weighing approximately 2,000 pounds. When ideas for the structure first started to form, local art gallery, Art on the Green, was called on to scout out an artist. Sculptor and university professor, Bryan Massey, was selected to bring the bear—which is named Otis after his favorite character on The Andy Griffith Show—to life.
Feast your Eyes (and Ears)
Take note of these must-see venues and schedule your next trip to Conway around a show, gallery reception, or concert:
Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre
Calling all Thespians! The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre is the state’s only professional Shakespeare company.
Art on the Green
Consider this your hub for all things art. The 3,000 square-foot gallery showcases world-renowned artists and hosts lecture series, classes, and special events. With exhibits rotating every three months, there’s always something new to see.
An educational art museum located on the University of Central Arkansas campus. The gallery features international touring exhibitions, student shows, and more. An added bonus: all exhibits and events are free to the public.
This not-for-profit organization offers classes for children, teens, and adults in creative writing, dance, film, music, sewing, theater, and visual arts. With past performances and ballets like The Little Mermaid and Cinderella, it’s a treat for everyone.
Conway Symphony Orchestra
Year-round events from the CSO offer music enthusiasts plenty of opportunities to attend a show.
Reynolds Performance Hall
This 1,200-seat venue hosts big-name concerts, lectures, Broadway musicals, and international acts.
Areas of Interest: A Few of Our Favorite Stops in Conway
Bell & Sward
1020 West Oak Street
Art on the Green
1100 Bob Courtway Drive, Suite 1
Conway Downtown Partnership
900 West Oak Street