I don’t know how long it’s been since you’ve visited the Argenta Arts District in North Little Rock, but if it’s been a while, you’ll be surprised.
I’m not sure exactly what the boundaries are for the area, but it seems to be about Dickey-Stephens Park (home of the Travelers), to Verizon Arena and then the area encompassing the Main Street area. I’ll focus on the Main Street area, beginning with my recent visit to Starving Artist Café, home of the weekly radio show, Tales From the South.
Some of the more interesting venues in the area include the beautiful, new Argenta Community Theatre, a 208-seat theater designed for community theater and public rentals.
One of my favorites of the area is Ristorante Capeo, an Italian restaurant. Capeo offers dining with a huge wine list from the onsite wine cellar. You can sample traditional dishes such as lasagna, osso buco, tiramisu, house specialties duck valentine and elk chops. This ain’t no Olive Garden.
Other area favorites include The Joint, a new hangout with its own comedy company, and Crush Wine Bar, a relatively small bar with tons of wine choices by the glass and bottle.
More information on the Argenta Arts District at ArgentaArts District.org.
Tales from the South
I attended my first Tales From the South taping Tuesday and it’s truly a magical experience. Owner/creative guru, Paula Morrel, created the format giving three Southern storytellers five minutes or so to tell a true story told in the first person.
The experience consists of dinner and a show, which all told is about a two-hour time span. But you don’t have to eat. Their website describes it as a "cross between a house concert and a reading/show, with incredible food and great company." Paula tells me the shows usually sell out, so it’s a good idea to purchase tickets at least a week or so in advance.
"Tales From the South is a showcase of writers reading their own true stories. While the show itself is unrehearsed, the literary memoirs have been worked on for weeks leading up to the readings. Stories range from funny to touching, from everyday occurrences to life-altering tragedies," continues the website.
Do yourself a favor and book a Tuesday night at Tales From the South, a unique treasure seasoned with the flavors of the South.
Visit the website, where you listen to past shows and book your tickets at talesfromthesouth.com. The show airs weekly on local NPR affiliate, KUAR, FM89.1, at 7 p.m. each Thursday.
There also seems to be a rejuvenation of the south Main Street area in Little Rock with the opening of the unusual Bernice Gardens, a purse museum, The Root, Community Bakery, Boulevard Bread and the soon to open South on Main restaurant sponsored by Oxford American Magazine.
Should be interesting to watch this develop.
Where is Maumelle’s district?
After looking at these two areas, maybe that’s one of the things missing from the Maumelle area. We just don’t have a home for arts-related events. I know, we have a community theater group that continues to try to gain some footing. We have one restaurant that even comes close to being a "nice place." And then we have a ton of fast food and family fun joints like American Pie and Beef O’ Brady.
Mayor Mike Watson and I discussed that there was no central gathering place for Maumellians, nothing that really brings us together.
Beyond private development, I think it has to happen through our Parks and Recreation Department. We have a huge community center, a very nice park area, Lake Willastein, that is heavily used but continues to sponsor "county-fair"-type events featuring a few vendors and carnival rides. It’s time to take the Lake Willastein events to a higher level.
Let’s bring in some decent music and serve an adult beverage with an evening under the stars. Why couldn’t we sponsor arts-related fairs with a little more substance than carnival rides and funnel cakes?
It’s time to offer our citizens things that are more reflective of who we are and what we enjoy. We can get a carnival elsewhere.
I remain adamantly opposed to fireworks in Maumelle, but certainly support the fireworks show at the park. Be careful out there. Someday when we burn a house down, they will be banned.
See you on the Boulevard.
Neal Moore owns a creative consulting firm, Neal Moore Creative. He has lived in Maumelle over 10 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter, @kneelmore.