Written by Arkansas Real Estate
Conveniently located off the old Frisco Trail along the Regional Razorback Greenway, Arsaga's at The Depot is becoming a hub for the local biking community. Within walking distance from the UofA, this charming coffee shop and restaurant is also a popular post-game Sunday morning brunch spot. Tucked beside Dickson Street and the Fayetteville Entertainment District, Arsaga's at the Depot epitomizes Northwest Arkansas character in a dynamic blend of natural beauty, historic charm and culinary excellence.
In addition to its convenient trailside location, the Arsaga's depot building has long been one of Fayetteville's cultural landmarks. Built in the 1900's, the building once housed freight for the Frisco Train Yard. In the early 2000's, the Frisco Trail was developed, providing pedestrians and cyclists safe access to Fayetteville's Entertainment District.
“I was very excited about this building, especially once I found out that the trail was right here,” says owner Cary Arsaga.
But the building didn't come without its drawbacks. Excitement fizzled once the remodeling process began, and Cary and his wife Cindy weren't sure how to proceed. The building was worse for wear and exuded a stale, depressing atmosphere. Once the Arsagas decided to tear everything out, the building's true character was revealed. After tearing away layers of drywall and removing the lowered ceiling, the bare bones of the charismatic warehouse took center stage. Today, the bare brick of the depot's walls add a loft-like quality to the restaurant's atmosphere.
“We just started scraping off the paint and just left it. People have an emotional response to the architecture and history of this building” says Cary.
The Arsagas anticipated that many of their customers would arrive by the trail, so the remodel of the old train depot focused on the trailside entrance as the main attraction. The back patio has a grand staircase with a long, covered porch and ample seating. Bike racks line both sides of the stairs and a wrap-around ramp provides a casual ascent from the trail to the porch. Landscaping, including a garden with vegetables and herbs, borders the trailside of the building. Picnic tables offer additional seating beneath shade trees .
Designed to be a focal point and attraction to people utilizing the trail, business owner Cary says the trailside entrance is doing just that.
“We get a significant amount of business from the trail,” he says.
We visited Arsaga's at the Depot to find out what brought guests to the restaurant. One mother and her two sons got dropped off near Wilson Park where Skull Creek transitions to Frisco Trial, just so they could ride their bikes down to the Entertainment District. Another couple uses the trail several times a day – to walk their dog, bike to work or have an afternoon stroll with their young son, Franklin. They frequent Arsaga's at The Depot for the casual ambiance and quality offerings.
“It's a nice environment. They have refreshing beverages, and it's nice to get a seat inside to cool off,” says Claudia Vilato.
Claudia teaches English Composition at the University of Arkansas and her husband, Bret Lehmer, works in astronomy and astrophysics at J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. The couple recently moved to Northwest Arkansas from Washington D.C. and have visited Arsaga's at The Depot several times since arriving last month.
“People can get a drink or a meal in the middle of town and sit on the back deck and feel like they are in the country,” says Cary Arsaga.
The kitchen serves the same menu all day, which gives patrons the option of having breakfast for dinner and to enjoy the sweet or savory crepes at anytime. In addition to the seasonal drink menu, the coffee bar serves beer, wine, Bloody Mary's with sake and other specialty cocktails.
Music lovers will be happy to hear that Arsaga's at the Depot showcases live music on the weekends. If you're interested, you can find the line up on the Arsaga's at the Depot Facebook Page.
“In September, our musicians in-residence are Allison Williams and Willi Goehring. They will be playing every Saturday from 7-9 p.m.,” says general manager Déa Self.