Brian Chilson

The Root Cafe has been bringing locally sourced ingredients in the form of burgers, brats, banh mi sandwiches, an excellent brunch (and other foods that don’t necessarily start with the letter b) to the SoMa neighborhood for a decade. Owners Jack and Corri Bristow-Sundell, and fans of the farm to table approach, have reason to celebrate. The Root hasn’t merely survived 10 years and a pandemic, it’s flourished in its comfy, quaint digs at 1500 Main St. An email blast from The Root to its customers said, “Since opening we have spent over $2.5 million dollars with local farmers and producers; expanded our hours to include breakfast and dinner; created and hosted events like the LR Beard & Mustache Contest, the Traditional Pie Bake-off, and the Hot Pepper Eating Contest; and been featured on Food Network’s ‘Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives!’ Here’s to the next 10 years of Building Community Through Local Food!”

Dero Sanford
The Root Cafe’s Smoked Shiitakes with cornbread, greens and pea relish

The Root was able to do a good curbside business last year, but Sundell’s other restaurant in SoMa, Mockingbird Bar & Tacos, didn’t have a parking situation to facilitate curbside service and relies more on alcohol sales, Sundell said in an interview last summer. So in an effort to increase business there and at other SoMa restaurants impacted by the pandemic, Sundell teamed up with executive director of Downtown Little Rock Partnership, Gabe Holmstrom, to turn the parking lot at 1301 Main St. into the SoMa Outdoor Dining Room, which provided people an open air environment to enjoy food and libations from restaurants in SoMa.

Courtesy of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership
SoMa Outdoor Dining Room

The SoMa Outdoor Dining Room closed for the winter and reopened in April 2021 after it was approved for another season by the Little Rock Board of Directors. It’s open Thursday nights for trivia, and Friday and Saturday nights feature different musical acts every week from 6-9 p.m.

The Root also announced that it will open for indoor dining July 9, and will be closed July 4-8 for the holiday and for reopening preparations.