Date: September 1, 2022 | Story: Stephanie Maxwell Newton | Photography: Connor North Goad |
Independent restaurants, local shops, and a supportive community make this central Arkansas town one to visit again and again
Having opened more than 40 years ago, Patti and David Stobaugh’s restaurant Stoby’s is now a Conway icon. And while their hearty breakfasts and classic sandwiches are hard to beat, the undeniable star of the menu is Stoby’s Cheese Dip. The recipe is one David perfected as soon as the restaurant opened and has been a hit for its easy, mild flavor ever since.
Over the years, they’ve added a spicier variation to their offerings, but that’s not all that’s changed for the Stobaughs; in 2006, Patti left her career as a corporate accountant to join David in the business. Soon after, PattiCakes Bakery was born. “I wanted to have a cookie shop and thought maybe I’d do the desserts for Stoby’s, sell cookies, and that would be it. But we opened and it just blew up,” she says.
Now, PattiCakes has two distinct locations that add to Conway’s array of varied cuisine. The bakery next door to Stoby’s offers traditional sweets, while a downtown location acts as more of a “European patisserie” serving savory pastries and breads. “Conway just has such a dynamic community,” Patti says. “I love our strong group of independent restaurants and all the shops that are scattered around. It’s fun to browse walking up and down Oak Street,” she says, noting two of her personal favorite stops are Park Hill Home and Jenifer’s Antiques.
After recently serving as board president of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, Patti says she has even more appreciation for the people in her city. “I stand in awe of everything they’ve been able to accomplish,” she says. “The testament to Conway growing the way it has is the Chamber.” And she’s not the only one impressed with the organization; it was named one of the 2022 Chamber of the Year winners by the national Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.
The camaraderie between local restaurant owners also contributes to Patti’s love of the city. During the pandemic, David started a group message for Conway restaurateurs to be able to lean on each other for support during the unsteady time. “It’s been a tough few years for restaurants, and I’m really proud of how, as a group, we’ve defied the odds.” Read on for a few more of our favorite ways to discover Conway.
“Whimsical Toad” by Beebe artist Calvin Stinger welcomes visitors to downtown Conway.
Owner Katie Pew greets customers while decorative pillows line the shelves at recently opened Fig Modern.
Fig Modern (figmodern.com) opened in May as a source for designer furnishings, luxury bedding, art, accessories, and gifts—all with a contemporary flair. Find comfortable upholstery, design books, and more at this one-of-a-kind home store on Front Street. For more traditional tastes, Park Hill Home (501.358.3537) is the place. Shop a mix of antique, farmhouse, and European-inspired styles across a wide range of home décor and gifts.
Tacos 4 Life (tacos4life.com) was founded in 2014 with a philanthropic meal-for-meal business model. Over the years, they’ve donated more than 25 million meals to the international nonprofit Feed My Starving Children—so you can really feel good about dining at both the Oak Street and Dave Ward Drive locations.
Bella Rustina Modern Vintage Market (bellarustina.com) returns to Conway Expo Center September 9-11. Explore more than 250 booths filled with antiques, vintage finds, and handmade goods from vendors around Arkansas and beyond. Looking for a learning opportunity? Head to the Cadron Settlement Park (conwayparks.com), where attractions include the historic blockhouse re-creation, exhibits about the Trail of Tears, hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, and more.