You may have heard that the Backyard Burgers chain has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed some of its Arkansas stores. That does include the Conway location, I’m sorry to say for any big fans of the chain.
It came as a surprise to me. I learned the chain has been around since 1987. It couldn’t have been long after when it came to Conway, as I vividly recall an amusing conversation about the establishment circa 1993. Everything was more amusing 20 years ago. So long, Backyard Burgers.
The departure of said business, by the way, leaves a vacant building on prime real estate facing Harkrider Street right in front of Walmart. You know how I feel about vacant buildings. Fill them up. Tear them down and rebuild. Remodel until they are completely unrecognizable. Just don’t leave them there to rot. Somebody get down here and put in a Chipotle or a Steak ‘n Shake or something.
I guess I’m on a bit of a rant, because vacant storefronts is exactly what is on my mind today, specifically in downtown Conway. Let me emphasize that I think downtown Conway is cool and beautiful and that very smart people are doing everything they can to make sure its shops are inhabited. But as a public service, I like to occasionally bring attention to these great opportunities, especially when there are so many of them.
First of all, just on Oak Street in downtown proper, there is plenty of room. None of this is really new information, but put it all together, and it makes the upcoming Halloween a little extra spooky. The store fronts that formerly housed Pizzazz, Conway Music and Conway Tuxedo and Bridal are all just waiting to be occupied. Also the building at Oak and Court Street, where Southern Tradition was located before it moved, is huge and empty.
I can only conclude that the would-be entrepreneurs of the world need ideas to inspire them to move to downtown Conway. So here are a couple.
• German/European restaurant/bakery/grocery. If we want Conway to be a destination town, we definitely need one of these. If you have always wanted to open an authentic German restaurant, downtown Conway will love it.
• Arts and crafts. I don’t mean like hobby stuff, although you can get some of those items downtown and they are nice things. But in addition to our several art galleries, we could stand to have some other specialized art downtown — like wood carving or iron work — the kind of things that can be decorative or functional. I know. I’m asking a lot. But we have talented people around here, after all.
I know. If we could all get everything we wished for.
(Rachel Parker Dickerson is a freelance columnist/journalist. Send your questions and comments to email@example.com)