HOLE IN THE WALL SERVES LAST LUNCH SUNDAY
After two years of cornbread and beans, mashed tators and greens, Sunday will be the last day the Hole in the Wall will be open for lunch.
"Over the past year and a half our catering business has really grown," said Owner and Operator Toni Burrows. "We now plan on growing it even more."
The Old Gin will be reserved for the Hole in the Wall’s catering and food truck business and the restaurant’s regular lunch crowd is welcome to join the staff at the Cast Iron Skillet for the southern fixings they love.
The Hole in the Wall originally opened in a location on Amity Road in September of 2010. Burrows said the inspiration for the name comes from a conversation she had with a friend.
He was asking Burrows if she’d ever heard of Who Dat’s Cajun Restaurant in Bald Knob.
"I asked if it was a white table cloth kind of place, and he said, ‘no it’s just a hole in the wall,’" Burrows said.
The Hole in the Wall quickly earned a reputation for fried southern foods, slow cooked veggies and homemade pies.
"It was a tiny place on Amity Road behind Target," said Judy Kelley, kitchen manager. "But boy did we pack them in. They lined up out the door to get in."
On a fall evening in 2011, Gov. Mike Beebe came through the line, fixed a plate and made his selection of cornbread or roll.
Before he left, Beebe wrote on the black board, "Beans are awesome — white or brown." Beside Beebe’s remarks, football running back Peyton Hillis wrote, "Great fried pies."
In February of 2012, Hole in the Wall moved to the Old Gin on Markham Street.
Burrows took the black board signed by Beebe and Hillis from the original location and framed it in the restaurant’s new home at the Old Gin.
A year later, Burrows opened the Cast Iron Skillet on Harkrider Street with the hope of one day being able to franchise her southern recipes.
The versatility of the Old Gin as an event center and a restaurant became a problem in the afternoons when the Hole in the Wall would host business luncheons, Burrows said.
"It either needs to be an event center or a restaurant," she said. "People drive up and see the parking lot full and say, ‘I bet the line is backed up — we’ll never get through.’"
When the event and catering business began cutting into the Hole in the Wall’s lunch business, Burrows knew it was time to make a change.
"I’ve really been working hard to get the catering and the food truck going so I can have one lunch location," she said.
Burrows said although she’s looking forward to being able to focus her time and energy, the decision to close the Hole in the Wall is bittersweet.
"I know it’s going to be a very good move, but we’re creatures of habit, and it’s just the fact that I’ve met so many wonderful people [at the Hole in the Wall]," she said.
Burrows said the lunch customers who walk through the doors of the Hole in the Wall are some of the best people she’s come to know, and she hopes to continue that friendship at the Cast Iron Skillet.
Dee Baker, front line manager at the Hole in the Wall, will be splitting her time between the catering business and serving the customers at the Hole in the Wall’s new home at the Cast Iron Skillet.
"I won’t have time to miss anything," she said, "because I’m looking forward to seeing all our regulars at the Skillet."
The Cast Iron Skillet may be a different building, but it will still feel like home, Baker said, with the same great food and smiling faces from the Hole in the Wall.
Currently, the Hole in the Wall food truck, fixed up with tie-dye logos and loaded with hot plate lunches, sandwiches, salads and desserts makes an appearance at three scheduled locations each week.
The food truck is at Snap-On Equipment on Tuesdays, Southwestern Energy on Wednesdays and Home Bancshares Inc. on Thursdays.
Beginning in June, the food truck is scheduled to come to West Conway each Monday. Burrows is working to secure a regular location in West Conway.
The Old Gin will still be available to rent out for weddings, receptions and special events, with or without full service catering from the Hole in the Wall, including civic group and business luncheons.
The Cast Iron Skillet is open Tuesday through Friday 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., which Burrows plans to extend to 8:30 p.m. soon, and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"Our customers have been good to us, and we thank you so much," Burrows said. "Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this crazy ride, and we’ll see you at the Skillet."
For catering, events and luncheons call the Old Gin at (501) 205-1325, The Cast Iron Skillet at (501) 358-3518 or Toni Burrows at (501) 336-4226.
(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1215. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)