NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansans are celebrating cooler temperatures with the arrival of Fall, and some of the big winners are restaurants. Outdoor dining has become a popular choice during COVID-19 from SoMa to River Market, and some diners say with mild temperatures and sunny skies, it’s never been nicer to eat outdoors.
Outdoor dining has become the new normal, but areas like SoMa and Argenta have taken it to a new level. Outside seating under tents with socially-distanced tables are set up to allow customers to enjoy their meals safely. “They do a really good job of making sure everyone’s spaced out,” diner Jackson Taylor said.
But this weekend’s cooler temperatures are the big draw. “We were at Brook and Barley,” said diner Rachel Williams, “just enjoying the nice weather out here.” Flyway and Brood and Barley have had outdoor seating for months, in part because space inside was already tight and COVID-19 restrictions made it all the more cramped. “In Flyway, we started back in the spring,” explained co-owner Jess McMullen. “But here [at Brood and Barley], we started in June and it’s just been great.”
But as the summer heat fades away, they need these seats they’ve come to rely on to stay full. “October, we planned on it being our busiest month,” said McMullen. “So we think outdoor dining was made for the fall.” And at least for now, with cool temperatures and sunny skies, diners are ready to come back for seconds.
Businesses have also found creative ways to keep people in their seats, such as live music and concerts. Argenta’s outdoor dining area is open from 10:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. seven days a week, and SoMa’s is open from 11:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. Tuesday through Sunday.