Downtown El Dorado restaurants bounce back due to new events

Published: Jul. 25, 2021 at 4:24 PM CDT
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EL DORADO, Ark. (KNOE) - Restaurants in El Dorado are seeing an uptick in business now that live music and events are back.

El Dorado restaurant owners say it hasn’t been easy during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they appreciate all the community’s support throughout these tough times.

Main Street Pizza and Off The Rail Cafe are two restaurants benefitting from the recent activity.

Main Street Pizza owner, Donnie Clayton, says he tries to make pizza like it used to be 25 years ago. He has owned the restaurant for the last 17 years, and it’s always been heavily based on dine-in and live music. The pandemic hit hard, so he said they had to become a better to-go restaurant.

Clayton says they maximized their outside revenue with live music and increased seating. Above all, he says you’ve got to keep positive energy.

“You have no choice. You’ve got to get up and go. Our business and livelihood depend on it. I’ve got 18-19 employees that this is their livelihood. The business we’ve built over the last 17 years. We get up every day, put the effort in, and feel like it will continue to grow and pay off as time comes,” Clayton said.

Clayton says he still facing price increases on supplies and the increase in Arkansas’ minimum wage.

He’s happy that the restaurant is having more normal days than bad days, and he’s excited to bring more live music inside.

Dean Morrison, the owner of Off The Rail Cafe, says they’ve been about a 30% increase in business since the first of the year.

He always planned on opening the restaurant, but when they got the ball rolling, the pandemic hit. It put a hold on most businesses in the area.

Morrison opened Off The Rail Cafe in May 2020 when Arkansas’ governor opened everything back up. The restaurant is unique because it’s an old, refurbished rail car. He says they’ve definitely seen an influx in business when there are events downtown.

“We’ve got a great community here and they have really supported Off The Rail so we’ve seen huge support by our community. Quite frankly, you don’t see the scare like you were seeing a year ago. I mean people are getting out but of course, we do put tables outside for the people that are still a little leery about coming inside to eat,” Morrison said.

He says they’re waiting on their beer and wine permit to come in, so they can open up at night. Morrison has his sights set on Northeast Louisiana, and might even open up another restaurant in the area.

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