Check regularly to find out what's happening in SoMa . There is always something going on of special interest to all the folks who live in our area. Keep up with the progress right here.
A lovely article about SoMa and the Bernice Garden Holiday craft market and tree lighting.
Winter Garden Report
Third Year for 15th Street Garden
For a third year Dana and Wally Nixon are giving us, through SOMA, use of their lot at the corner of 15th and Louisiana streets for the .
In our first year, 2009, the 15th Street Community Garden had a dozen plots going. In this, our third year, we'll be gardening twice as many.
Thanks to City Parks Dept. compost & mulch (and, yes, some effort by us!) we've also been growing at least twice as much per plot. Maybe more. By last mid-July Carolyn & Peter Hartstein had harvested 80 lbs of produce from their 5'x12' plot.
Counting kids, over 40 gardeners - from the River Market, Buffington Towers and the lovely new high-rises to the north, and, hyper-locally, our Quapaw neighborhood - have been planting, weeding, watering, kibbiitzing and harvesting.
We're full right now, but if you want to go on the wait-list, please call Sarah Smith: 350-4024
From the Green AR By The Day blog:
Spot on Green: The Green Corner Store
A MURAL PROGRAM for SoMA (South Main Street)
For more information contact SoMA tel. 501-410-4875; mail: P.O. Box 165494, Little Rock, AR 72216; email: SoMA@southsidemain.org
Mural projects are an investment in cultural capital that goes far beyond tourism, improved aesthetics, increased business traffic and building occupancy, and eradication of blight. Murals are an investment in a city’s unique identity and its cultural cohesiveness, and contribute to its public art.
For complete information, download the information PDF here.
SoMa Announces New Business to Open in 2011
A new business in SoMa (South Main Street) was announced by property owner Anita Davis. Boulevard Bread, with locations already in the River Market downtown, in the Heights neighborhood, and at UAMS, will open in Davis' space at 1417 Main Street after the first of the new year. The 2,000 square foot space will house the baking and catering facilities for all of the Boulevard Bread businesses and will include a small storefront area to sell baked goods, coffee drinks and some grocery essentials. The move will free space at the Heights location for expanded service and create more opportunity for an expanded catering and wholesale business. "I am so excited for the increased activity on south Main," said Davis. "This will also create an opportunity for those who visit Bernice Garden to grab a quick bite and stay a while."
Bernice Garden, next door to the future site of Boulevard Bread, is privately owned by Davis, but intended for public use. The garden was created to celebrate the community and is host to community events as well as the sculpture exhibit in an effort to foster community interaction and a sense of pride in the neighborhood. The rotating sculpture exhibit, scheduled to change in October, is sponsored by Main Street Arkansas and is facilitated by SoMa.
Boulevard Bread Company Offers More Than Just A Slice of Life
By Caroline Damron
Published: May 1, 2011, 12:00 am • Reprinted from inarkansas.com
Bread. Bread and butter.
Baked goods. Sandwiches. White. Brown. Sliced whole wheat. Rye. Pumpernickel. The best thing since sliced bread is – well, let’s be honest – bread.
Bread is a basic food that has been a lifeline for humanity for centuries. Bavarians used wheat to make two things: bread and beer. Hot crossed buns were sold on the streets in the old country. Flatbread without yeast still supports shepherds and farmers in the Middle East. So why do we have this obsession with bread? Maybe it’s more of a necessity, but whatever the reason for our craving or essential need, bread has stood the test of time.
As a part of our bread fixation we also wonder about the bakers and bakeries that create this delicious and widespread commodity. How do they play into a modern bread revolution? Because despite the bread offerings of grocery stores, local bakeries continue to pop up. Fresh-baked bread is a valued and sought-after product. Little Rock boasts several beloved bakeries, including Community Bakery, Silvek’s and Old Mill Bread, among others. Last month we reviewed a new bakery, Rosalia’s Family Bakery, which opened their doors at the end of last year. There is rumor of a new gluten-free bakery coming to town. And in the midst of the old favorites and new bakeries coming into the spotlight, one of our choice shops, Boulevard Bread, has just opened a fourth location.
We are intrigued by these bakeries, not only because we love bread (and we mean absolutely love bread) but also because in our economy, which seems to leave so many businesses gasping for breath and reaching for customers, these bakeries seem to be thriving. They have discovered a need or a love in the community and are serving that need. The people seem to be crying out, “Give us bread!” and the bakeries are answering.
One bakery that is responding extremely well is a local love: Boulevard Bread. They already have several locations, including the original in the Heights, another in the River Market and one in the UAMS College of Public Health. Recently, they answered the call to open a new store in the SOMA district (Southside Main Street Project) downtown.
“SOMA was created to promote the economic development, historic integrity and quality of life for the citizens of the neighborhood,” said Boulevard’s business manager, Jason Neidhardt. “SOMA consists of the areas of Main Street between I-630 and Roosevelt.”
Boulevard chose the SOMA location for several reasons, but the main factor was long time client Anita Davis. “She has been a loyal customer and friend to Boulevard,” said Neidhardt. “She has been a major player in the resurgence of the SOMA area, creating the Bernice Sculpture Garden, renovating the buildings that Boulevard along with Green Corner Store occupy.”
The location is not only building into a great cultural resurgence, but it has also allowed Boulevard to expand business. “What we love most about the new space is exactly that, space,” said Neidhardt. “For our two kitchen operations to finally have the necessary space and equipment has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for us.”
Boulevard’s bakery manager, Ashton Woodward, said he loves the new location because it gives them room to breathe. “All of the space allows for a better work environment,” he said. “No more crawling over one another. We can operate as a bakery and not a restaurant pulling double duty at night.”
Because of the extra space, Boulevard has been able to better serve their customers. “We have already picked up numerous new wholesale bread accounts,” said Neidhardt. “We have also moved the catering portion of our business to the Main Street location.”
Woodward said the new space enables the SOMA location to produce bread for all four of Boulevard’s locations, as well as to bake for all of their local accounts, which include some of the best establishments in Little Rock. “You can eat our bread at Ferneau, Brave New Restaurant, Chenal Country Club, and the list goes on,” he said. “The bread we sell at our retail locations is only a portion of our daily work. The new, larger facility enables us to fulfill larger orders, but we are still committed to shaping every item by hand.”
The move has also opened up much-needed space in the Heights store because a lot of the large baking equipment was moved to the SOMA location.
“Removing the equipment from the Heights allowed us to bring in an entire new line of equipment that is allowing us to expand our offerings at the Heights store,” said Neidhardt. “We are able to provide a breakfast menu (available Thursday-Saturday until 10:30 a.m.) and multiple dinner options on a daily basis.” They have also brought on a chef with an extensive charcuterie background, so Boulevard now offers their own homemade bacon, prosciutto, pâtés, salamis and more.
But Boulevard has not forgotten their first love; they have plans to increase the types of bread they’ll produce in the near future. “With the move so fresh, we are still getting our feet beneath us,” said Neidhardt, “but we are looking to expand our bread offering in the coming months.”
Woodward said some old Boulevard favorites will make their way back to the menu in the near future. “We are always researching new breads, and without giving too much away, we will soon be bringing back some old favorites from bread menus of Boulevard’s past,” said Woodward. “Look for Pecan Currant Sourdough to make a return, which is my bake staff’s favorite, and also give our new potato herb a try.”
Woodward did not want to reveal much more because he does not want to ruin a truly delicious surprise, but he did say to look for new pastry items as the seasons change, because they will showcase some of our local farmers’ best fruit.
The new location has made waves in the community—waves of excitement and hunger, but we believe the affects go deeper than the stomach.
Boulevard is supporting the local community by growing local businesses that not only serve their community but also give back in many ways. “We are firm believers that it is our responsibility to give back to the communities that have allowed us to enjoy the success we have gained,” said Neidhardt. “We constantly give donations to various charities and community events. Plus, at the end of each day, we donate our leftover bread, when there is some left, to different homeless shelters.”
The local bakery is not dead, by any stretch of the imagination. It is very much alive, and the community is in full support. And while we’re not sure if the people’s cry for bread will be satisfied with this new Boulevard location, we are certainly excited to see where the call of the people leads next and where the next uprising will take place.
A Day In the Life of A Boulevard Baker
“Bread doughs are, by nature, finicky—a simple temperature change or drop in humidity can have big affects on a batch. Taking all of the variables into consideration will give any baker better results, and if I mix everything right, it is all downhill from there,” says Woodward.
2 p.m. :: Bakery Manager Ashton Woodward gets up for the day.
6 p.m. :: Woodward arrives at the bakery.
7-11 p.m. :: Six bakers show up in intervals, the last arriving at 11 p.m.
11 p.m.-3 a.m. :: Woodward and his six-baker crew continue to work: mixing, baking, packaging.
3 a.m. :: Woodward heads home.
3 a.m.-6 a.m. :: Bakers continue to work.
6 a.m. :: Bread must be ready for pick up and delivery.
New Root Cafe uses local products
Submitted by TodaysTHV Web Staff • Wednesday, June 15th, 7:54 pm
Reprinted from Todaysthv.com
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV)--After years of planning and prepping, The Root Cafe has opened on Main Street in Little Rock.
The Root Cafe has a motto of "building community through local food" and plans to be open for lunch Monday through Saturday. They will also offer workshops, art events, concerts and more.
At the end of a busy second day of business, owner Jack Sundell says interest is growing for the new cafe. And it's not just customers taking notice.
"It's the kind of thing that's happened a lot. Farmers have heard about The Root and they get in touch with us and say 'I'm not a full time farmer but I grow a little of this, or grow a big crop of heirloom tomatoes or basil.'
It's a place where flip flops, mismatched chairs and old-fashioned coke bottles look comfy. A place which started as a dream for the Sundells to bring local produce and products to the people.
"We've been, during these three years, working towards the goal where farmers would be able to bring food and we'd be able to serve that food in a nice homey environment."
Sundell says it's great for the local economy, too. "Environmentally there are a lot of reasons, you know. The food travels a shorter distance and also typically it's grown on a small farm and small farms tend to be better stewards of the land. If you spend dollars at local businesses those dollars have a much greater impact on the local economy."
And just like a garden--those who have a hand in the hard work are excited to see it finally blossom.
Jeff Roper says, "Way back in the day when they first started raising money to get the place open to get everybody involved they would sell shares and so I have a little certificate that lists me as a shareholder! I also live downtown. So, to see the whole sustainability movement coming to South Main and having some place to get some really nice food and you know where it all comes from. Plus, any place where the owners are on site always adds a bit of character to it."
Character obvious from the garden on the rooftop, right down to the locally roasted coffee.
SoMa After Juanita’s
Reported by: Bakari Savage, KARK 4 News • Wednesday, June 29 2011
Reprinted from Arkansasmatters.com
Little Rock's SOMA neighborhood, that's short for south of Main Street near downtown, has suffered a loss with the departure of Juanita's bar and restaurant. But the area is still growing and has a lot to offer. Juanita's has been in that area since the 80's and has seen the place go through a lot of changes. Those changes now mean that SOMA is becoming hipper, greener and more inclusive neighborhood.
"I bought a home about ten years ago that was damaged by the tornado and I rebuilt it," explains SOMA resident Paul Minton. "I come here often, sometimes, and I purchase products," says SOMA shopper Rosalyn Brooks.
Whether you live here or just come to shop, Little Rock's SOMA District offers everything from vintage records to and fresh baked cookies. But the question is, now that Juanita's bar and restaurant is gone, did the neighborhood's popularity go along with it?
"Juanita's is a legend but there's so many other businesses around here we have other bars and nightlife in the area and we're looking forward to having a new business coming in and into the Juanita's spot," says SOMA District board member and store owner Shelley Green. New businesses seem to be the new life-line of the area, along with what they mean. Take a look at The Root Cafe. The owners are young and the restaraunt represents a new feel and look of the area. It's a sustainable building with plants growing on the roof and a outdoor garden courtyard for people to sit and eat food that's locally grown. The Root Cafe owner Jack Sundell says, "For us, we're a new place and we're just excited to see that we're part of something bigger that's happening here, that people are getting interested in SOMA again."
From artwork on the sidewalk, to improvements at Bernice Garden, Green believes the people will come. She says, "The young, next generation, they want to work with something that is alligned with their values and when they can work on their passion and they have an opportunity to really start, they will become more invested in the community."
They're still doing market research on how much money is being generated by the neighborhood economy. But the impact of the community will be seen once a mural is completed next year.
Southside Main Street seeks Local Mural Artists
Little Rock, AR – June 29, 2011 – Southside Main Street Project (SoMa) in Little Rock will begin accepting responses to a Request for Qualification beginning July 1, 2011from artists interested in designing a new mural. The mural, which will be selected by the SoMa Wall Mural Design Committee, will find a home on the wall of the United Systems of Arkansas Building located at 1201 S. Main Street. Costs for the project are expected to range from $10,000 to $15,000. The application deadline is August 31, 2011.
The mural project was originated by local businesses and residents wanting to increase SoMa’s unique identity, its cultural cohesiveness and contribute to its public art. The mural project will compliment other artistic ventures in the area such as The Bernice Garden (www.thebernicegarden.org). Additional spaces have been identified for future mural projects but organizers are sensitive to maintaining elements of buildings which are historically significant.
United Systems of Arkansas has generously agreed to allow the mural to be painted on a large wall located on S. Main. “It is not often you find a business owner who invites such a project. Lucky for us, Glenn Petkovsek has a passion for art, and a heart for our community. We appreciate this opportunity to present art and artist on such a large scale and improve our community at the same time” said Hillis Schild, Chair of SoMa.
Choosing a design is the first step of many in this process. Fundraising efforts are already underway. If you would like a copy of the RFQ, it can be found at www.southsidemain.org or by emailing a request to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in making a contribution towards this project, please mail your donations to SoMa, P.O. Box 165494, Little Rock, AR 72216. For more information about this project, contact SoMa at 501.410.4875.
About Southside Main Street Project, Inc
Southside Main Street Project, Inc. (SoMa) is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization located in Little Rock, Arkansas. The mission of SoMa is to promote and enhance the economic development, public relations, historic integrity and quality of life for the citizens of the neighborhood. We're enthusiastic about the potential of the South Main area as a historic district and community. As an affiliated program of Main Street Arkansas, we are committed to bringing vitality and business to the area.