Oark General Store and Cafe

You know by now that finding out of the way spots to eat becomes #1 priority when we travel.

When we started travelling by motorcycle, we knew that interstates or major highways were out.  Why would we travel on such a boring road with all those eighteen wheelers?   So, we did a little ciphering and concluded that:

1)Interstates took the place of back roads.
2)Back roads were typically less travelled.
3)Back roads were usually curvier.
4)Motorcycles love curvy roads.
5)Curvy, back roads lead to small towns.
6)Small towns have hometown cafes.
7)Hometown cafes ALWAYS have pie.
8)We love pie.

Which leads us to the Oark Café.

oark general store

Like I mentioned in my last post, the Oark Store is the longest continuous-operating store in the state of Arkansas.  Since 1890, it has been serving this small community with a variety of services.

Getting to the café is not hard.  You just have to know where to turn.

First, take the Pig Trail (Hwy. 23)

pig trailpig trail, oark

to Hwy 215 just north of Cass.

road to oark

Follow 215 along the Mulberry River

road to oark rock retaining wall, road to oark pig trail, oark

until you reach the intersection of Hwy 215 and Hwy 103.  Turn left and stay on 215 until you see the store.

oark

One of the things I love about this store is the LACK of change.  This is important to me probably because I don’t like change.  My simple reasoning is this:   if a store has stayed in business for over 100 years, they must be doing something right.  Why change?  It appears the owners feel the same way.  I’m happy.

oark

Ok, let’s go inside.

oark

Maybe other people do this too, but I always notice the floors of old buildings.  Think about all the different types of people who have walked across this wood over the last century.  The worn paths, dents, and stains are stories within stories.

oark general store

We were with a group of eating motorcycle enthusiasts this day, so the place was hopping.

oark

oark

The little strip in the middle is the road through town

One of the locals tells us a story.  It was a whopper of a tale if I remember correctly.

oark local

The decor is right up my alley.

oark

We arrived around 1:00, so the pie selection was slim.

oark

But, being the pie connoisseurs that we are, we ordered our pie first and then our meal.

oarkThis is oatmeal pie–one I have never tried and, although it was good, my favorite is buttermilk and they were out.  Note to self:  get a move on girl and get there earlier!

The special of the day was catfish but I opted for a hamburger and fries.  Honestly, I’ve gotten several different meals here and they’ve all been tasty.

oark

While you’re in the neighborhood, head on down to the swingin’ bridge.  Leaving the café, turn right and travel about a mile or so along the river.  It’s very hard to see so start slowing down when you begin to see the river close to the road.  (If you run out of pavement, you’ve gone to far.)

There is a sign but that is also very hard to see.

swinging bridge oark

Before you start across the bridge, you might want to sit and ponder a minute about life, love or even pie.

oark

A swinging bridge is just that.  A bridge that swings.  It’s connected by cables to two trees on both sides of the river.  As soon as you step one foot on it, it begins to move up and down and make all kinds of creakity sounds.

swinging bridge oark

The bridge is still used by the locals and, although they are not visible in this picture, there are trucks parked in the field so they can park and hitch a ride with someone across the river.

Being the smart girls that we are, we sent the guys out first to test the bridge.

swinging bridge oark swinging bridge oark

They deem it safe and we hitch up our big girl britches and venture out

swingin bridge oark

Of course, as soon as we get in the middle, some Yayhoo  runs on the bridge and starts jumping up and down causing the bridge to move in a most unnatural manner and me to scream uncontrollably saying words I didn’t even know I knew.  As he is laughing, I am making yet another note to self:  Plot revenge.

swinging bridge oark

We made it!

So, if you find yourself on the Pig Trail someday, take a detour and head to Oark for breakfast, lunch or dinner with pie served at every meal.  You won’t be sorry and you’ll discover and experience a piece of unique Arkansas history.

oark store

Amen.

Brenda

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About the blonde gardener

I'm an Arkansas girl born and raised. I garden in the beautiful Northwest part of the state (zone 6b or 7) surrounded by the Ozark Mountains. My favorite part about the area is we have 4 distinct seasons and are able to enjoy a variety of activities. My main passion is gardening but I also enjoy hiking, birding, 4-wheeling and motorcycle trips. Basically anything outside. Thanks for stopping by! Brenda
This entry was posted in Arkansas, eating, Motorcycle trips, travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Oark General Store and Cafe

  1. M Norv says:

    Love this Brenda. Thanks for sharing these cool places you visit. Tammy

    Like

  2. Girl, this sounds like a splendid day! A general store from another era, pie, and a swinging bridge. Do tell us when your plot of revenge is carried out.

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  3. You are a traveller after my own heart, or stomach. If I am ever in Arkansas again I will look for this place. And, in exchange for your tip, I’ll offer you one. If you are ever in Springfield IL (hey, you might want to visit the Lincoln museum some day), try the fried fish at Carter’s Fish Market on South Grand. There are no tables and they sell the fish out of a little sliding window in a trailer, but it is good! Usually a line forms before they open for lunch. You have to go to a park or eat in your car, though. Good cole slaw and decent hush puppies, too.

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  4. You had too much fun…I love old spots that have such great history, atmosphere and food….and why change it indeed. I look at the floors too. Now that bridge may not have been for me…heights and it swings….oh I don’t think so 🙂

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  5. Nell Jean says:

    I came here by way of Dee’s blog when I saw you mention your greenhouse. I always want to peek into someone’s greenhouse.

    You sure visit some interesting places.

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  6. My heart is pulling me toward more road trips these days, especially now that spring is here. I loved your post, and your photos are amazing.

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    • I know what you mean! Wish we had more time to travel. fortunately, we live in a beautiful part of the state and can be at most destinations in about an hour. I am zip lining this weekend on the buffalo river. Can’t wait to share that experience!

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  7. Dee says:

    I didn’t realize you have a motorcycle. We do too. We ride a Harley and also have a vintage Norton. Bill and I will need to try that trail. Sounds fun.~~Dee

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  8. Mags Corner says:

    We used to vacation in OK with my family every year. We would leave home in time to get to Ozark to eat lunch. We love the food and people were always so friendly. Great place to eat and that part of AR is gorgeous.

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  9. turtle says:

    My family just stopped by the swingin bridge on July 18th 2015 & it’s definatly still there. It looked like everything on it was brand new though so maybe it was torn down and rebuilt.

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  10. Enjoyed reading of your Oark General Store visit. One of my favorite places in the Ozarks. I thought I was the only person fascinated by old wooden floors. Great photos!

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  11. Enjoyed reading of your Oark General Store visit. One of my favorite Ozark eating joints. I thought I was the only person fascinated by old wooden floors. Enjoyed your photos. Take care.

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