Outdoor dining district benefits downtown Springdale businesses

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 1,295 views 

Chef Brent Hale, owner of Big Sexy Food in downtown Springdale, said the Outdoor Dining District has helped his business, and as the weather warms, he expects even more of an uptick.

Nonprofit Downtown Springdale Alliance recently released a report showing the success of the Downtown Springdale Outdoor Dining District that Springdale City Council approved in August. The district allows people to purchase and drink an alcoholic beverage within it.

“We all feel like it’s been a home run,” said Jill Dabbs, executive director for Downtown Springdale Alliance. “The downtown businesses, bars, restaurants and retail have all reported that it’s made a big positive impact on their businesses. In the first four months, we had almost 10,000 to-go cups that were served.”

Chef Brent Hale, owner of Big Sexy Food at 107 E. Emma Ave., said the district has helped his business, and as the weather warms, he expects even more of an uptick.

When the district was approved, Big Sexy Food didn’t have a permit to sell alcoholic drinks, but customers could bring them from another establishment. Now, the restaurant has a beer and wine permit, and customers can buy a drink, go to the nearby park and have a picnic, he said.

Hale said many customers aren’t aware of the district. “But once they hear about it and they pick their jaw up off the ground, saying ‘Hey, I can actually take a drink out of here,’ they’re pretty stoked about it,” he joked.

Before receiving its permit, the restaurant could project its alcohol sales based on the customers who bought drinks from other establishments.

Hale also noted he’s seen no issue with litter, and the new Food Loops program is expected to help reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfill. Downtown Springdale Alliance recently partnered with Food Loops to offer compostable cups in the district. Customers can place their empty cups in receptacles throughout the district.

Starting on April 29, Downtown Springdale Alliance will host free outdoor concerts at Walter Turnbow Park, which is in the district and adjacent to the Razorback Regional Greenway. The concerts are set to start at 6 p.m. on the last Thursday of the month, from April to September.