As we enter the final lap of 2020, the temperatures have cooled and some returns to normalcy have been seen. Even though we still have to mask up, at least we don’t have to follow the yellow tape into the one open door at Walmart anymore. Football is being played and school is in session.

Meanwhile, despite the COVID cloud hanging over business in 2020, several new businesses have opened in the area in recent months or will be opening soon. Because of the current situation, there has been exponential growth in the food truck industry, providing Faulkner County residents with a variety of food options from hot dogs to barbecue as well as some unique dishes.

Sweet House Donuts and Ice Cream, 2915 Dave Ward Drive, Suite #1, opened August 1 serving a variety of donuts and breakfast foods as well as a variety of ice cream flavors with toppings.

Blue Barn Bakery, 1205 Front Street opened mid-September. It specializes in Keto baked goods that are gluten free, sugar-free, and grain-free. Cheese boards and local Red Roof cheese are also available.

Diablos Tacos Por Siempre, 912 Front Street, also opened in September in the former Local Patio Grill (John Daly’s) location. The restaurant’s two other locations in Little Rock and Hot Springs opened last year, debuting a new concept of pairing mezcal and wine with Mexican and Mediterranean food.

If you have passed by Cimarron Industrial Park westbound on I-40, you may also have seen the new Entergy Service Center along with construction underway for a Hum’s Hardware and Rental. Entergy’s Service Center had been at I-40 and Oak Street for over 50 years.

Buff City Soap is opening a local soap manufacturing business at 925 Oak Street at the end of October. Customers can choose from over 30 signature scents for their plant-based soaps and skin care products.

This past Tuesday, Holly’s Country Cookin’ moved south to 116 S. Harkrider, the former location of Blackwood’s Landing (aka The Catfish House). The larger space has made it easier to serve customers.

Chicken Salad Chick, 2235 Dave Ward Drive, is set to have its grand opening October 28. Stacy Brown, a stay-at-home mom went from making chicken salad for family and friends to opening a carry-out place. In 2015, Eagle Merchant Partners, a private equity firm acquired a majority stake in the restaurant and CEO Scott Deviney began franchising the enterprise. As one of the fastest growing franchises in the U.S., there are now 166 restaurants across 17 states. The 11 different recipes on the menu are named for people on Stacy’s life.

Jersey Mike’s Subs, 1120 East Oak Street, Suite 102, has delayed its opening due to COVID but appears to finally be preparing to open. Signage went up a couple of weeks ago on one of the new storefronts by Conway Family Bowl. Subs are served Mike’s Way with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, oil, vinegar and spices.

Jersey Mike’s comes from a longtime tradition of subs found on the Jersey Shore. Peter Cancro, who worked at Mike’s Subs (which opened in 1956) as a high school student in the early 1970s, eventually bought the business and began franchising in 1987, changing the name to Jersey Mike’s. There are now more than 2,000 locations.

It appears that two more Mexican restaurants are being added to the Conway restaurant scene. A sign for Los Gallos Taqueria Y Burrieria opened in the former Cici’s Pizza, Old Morrilton Highway this week. There is also a sign for a new Mexican restaurant in the former Los 3 Portrillos location next to the Howard Johnson on Skyline Drive. The building is currently undergoing a facelift.

Site work has begun for the Texas Roadhouse that will be located on Amity Road, north of Crain GMC at the entrance to Lewis Ranch while at the other Lewis Ranch entrance, a Tommy’s Express Car Wash is under construction.

In Greenbrier, a Casey’s General Store will be constructed on the southwest corner of Broadway and Main. The project has been underway for several months, but site work has yet to begin. Signs are up for O’Reilly Auto Parts next to Dollar Tree, but that project appears to be still in progress as well.

One final note: It was announced this past week that “Bethlehem Revisited,” the walk-through interactive event hosted by Antioch Baptist Church for over two decades, will take a hiatus this year due to COVID.

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