If you’ve made your share of trips up to Northwest Arkansas from Little Rock, you’re well aware of the phenomenon where lunch cravings announce themselves on the most inconvenient stretches of highway (Lamar! London! Menifee! Chester!), leaving you with mostly fast food options. In Russellville, there’s the Old South Restaurant, CJ’s Butcher Boy, Feltner’s Whattaburger, but if those aren’t your bag — or if you zipped past those exits and didn’t pack road snacks — options between the River Valley and Fort Smith can be scant.
Here’s one to add to the list: a cute spot in Clarksville called Kasper’s, est. 2019 in a New Deal-era building made of native stone. The Voorhees School, as it’s called, was designated on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018, having been used as a practice teaching school for education majors at the adjacent University of the Ozarks “for just over a year before the college turned over the campus to the U.S. Navy during World War II in 1944-45 to be used as a training facility,” the university’s blog states. “Over the years, the building has housed the state’s first pharmacy school as well as a student union, alumni and public relations offices, an art museum and art classes, the Walton International Scholarship Program offices and psychology laboratories.”
Named for owners Shane and Angela Kasper, who previously ran Clarksville’s Pasta Grill, it’s a fancy steakhouse by night but a treasure of a lunch spot, too, with the university campus right across the street if you want to make a picnic of it. The soup-and-sandwich offerings are choice picnic fare, too. We opted for the half turkey sandwich (pictured at top)— thin layers of griddle-browned turkey on a grainy, buttery whitewheat — paired with a broccoli soup with some major depth.
And if you’ve ever ordered chicken tenders and silently prayed your plate would arrive free of those zero-personality freezer jobs – a gutless batter coating something that, texturally speaking, is a cousin to chicken and nothing more — these are the chicken tenders you’ve been looking for. Two generous, crisp tenderloins were plenty, with seasoned fries. We split the house-made lemon curd cake – three thin layers of the richest, impossibly soft vanilla sponge cake with alternating lemon curd and lemon icing.
Even if you take the food to go, save a couple minutes for checking out the building itself, lovingly restored with farmhouse-inspired sinks and light fixtures and tons of natural wood. (Also, not gonna lie, this post from their Facebook feed about hiring folks with criminal records is pretty dang endearing. This one too.)