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Downtown El Dorado is on a roll

September 19, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.

The recent multiple opening and expansion of services and stores in downtown El Dorado is an example of how a community can experience economic job growth with new restaurants, retail businesses and professional services, all of which add jobs, in a downtown setting.

As El Dorado's downtown banks First Financial, Regions and Cadence continue to add employees, the downtown community has expanded to accommodate the influx of new workers. In addition, a booming Murphy USA, which has a downtown employee presence north of 600, has been a major catalyst, and indications are that it is still hiring.

Our 10-minute town is on a roll.

Sometimes a single new restaurant or retail entity in a downtown is enough to sound a few cheers, but in a downtown that already has around 90 percent occupancy, the announcement that multiple new business ventures will soon open or expand is not only a surprise, but a resounding "Yes!" to an active shopping and entertainment district.

The job increase in a city that has already won a Best Downtown National Award is an exclamation of its success. It's exciting, especially for areas that were part of a failed near-slum several decades ago.

Here's an overview of 10 new businesses and business expansions.

1. Gourmet2Geaux: This eagerly awaited dining experience by south Louisiana chef Eric Wallace will soon be open in the 100 block of Jefferson Avenue across from the courthouse where the Olde Town Store was located. He has announced a Sept. 25 opening. Look for a line out the door when his lavishly decorated restaurant with a New Orleans-flavored menu and motif welcomes diners.

2. Randolph's Party Room is a totally renovated entertainment concept created by Downtown Guest Quarters Hotel. The upstairs 5,000-square-foot space is above La Piazza, an Italian restaurant on Cedar Street. It's unique: a rent-by-the-night entertainment venue with a strobe-lighted dance floor. It's ready to take reservations.

3. The Barefoot Bistro Bakery and Catering at 101 East Main will have its grand opening Sept. 21. It brings a long-awaited popular restaurant to downtown with an extensive menu that includes specialties such as beignets, a Razorback burger, wings, and a Full Monte (a triple layer of sourdough bread filled with the works).

4. The New Olde Town Store moved a block away from its old location on Jefferson Avenue, with an upscale kitchen that will continue to serve quality dining specialties. It has ample sidewalk seating along a wide section of Jefferson Street reminiscent of a Parisian sidewalk cafe.

5. The 200 block of South Washington, already the site of Kyle and Company Lash and Skin Studio, a cosmetic specialty venue owned by Brandy Kyle and her husband, is tripling in size to add new services. It's won a Fan's Choice Award, and Brandy has been selected as a NovaLash trainer for Arkansas. Six employees have been added.

6. Ready to join the rush to park that old truck and ride an e-bike or e-scooter to work or school? Hook up with the well-stocked Ike's Scooter Rides fat-wheel e-scooter store open in the 100 block of Jefferson, across from the courthouse.

7. Murphy Arts District adds an exclamation point as chef Dean Morrison of Off the Rail Restaurant fame has opened Mad House 101. His steaks and fresh Gulf seafood are outstanding.

8. The surge of professionals coming to downtown continues with attorney Wendell Rogers, who's in the process of opening an office in the 200 block of North Jefferson.

9. Several other buildings in the 200 block of East Main Street are undergoing renovations. Two stores will soon open in the middle of the block, and rumors are one will be a margarita or daiquiri bar.

10. A major renovation is underway at the end of the 200 block of East Main in the former Ritz Theater to house another unnamed store, with retail on the ground floor and loft apartments on the upper floors.

With Standard Lithium setting the pace by moving into a great-looking set of new upstairs offices on the square, it looks as if we'll have to start renovating the remainder of our basement and second-floor spaces if we want to have space for new businesses and offices.

That's a great problem to have.

Email Richard Mason at [email protected].

Print Headline: Downtown El Dorado is on a roll


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