Though it’s in heart of downtown Conway, it’s all too easy to pass by Streetside Creperie without noticing. Located in a tiny brick building on Front Street, the homey breakfast restaurant seems like shouldn’t work: seating is limited, the restaurant is closed by mid-afternoon, and the owners, Arkansas natives Lesley Waterson and Spencer Pearson, are remarkably young and new to the business scene. And yet, in the height of summer when most restaurants experience a serious slump in volume, Streetside Creperie is busier than it’s ever been.
It’s easy to say that Streetside is successful because it has excellent food (which to be clear, it absolutely does), but doing so robs the restaurant of what’s turning it into a cornerstone of downtown Conway. It’s the vision of the ownership that’s made Streetside into what it is today and that’s allowing it to grow at an astonishing rate.
That vision is clear for anyone to see. As soon as you walk into the restaurant, you’re greeted with business cards and flyers from other local establishments; proudly displayed in beautiful chalk art are the logos of many local businesses and farms that Streetside partners with to make their delicious food. Streetside does everything in their power to benefit their customers and their community by using ingredients from local sources and introducing people to the benefits of being more community minded.
More simply, as Spencer puts it, Streetside is here for “people, planet, and profit, in that order.” That’s benefiting people in the community, sustaining the planet with green practices, and earning enough to sustain the other two. “We try to be conscious capitalists,” he explains, “we want to make sure that we’re not leaving a mess doing what we’re doing and that we’re benefitting our customers beyond just giving them a product or service. Even if that’s as small as making them realize that we grow peaches and tomatoes in Arkansas, and when they’re in season, they’re incredible.”
Their commitment to Conway’s people and businesses comes through not just in the practices they’ve put in, partnering with three dozen local farms and businesses in total, but even in the way they talk about the city and the future. “People call our restaurant ‘quaint,’” Spencer said, responding to Yelp reviews and in-person comments, “and it takes a loving town like Conway not to say ‘It’s so tiny and crowded’ instead.” That commitment hasn’t wavered with their success either and, in fact, seems to be growing stronger as their influence in Conway grows.
Looking to the future, Spencer is keeping the community in mind as his top priority. “I want to see a more lively downtown, with businesses open and lit up well into the night. I want to see more nightlife and for people to feel safe walking down the street at midnight. It’s something I’ve been trying to convince other businesses of, just to keep their lights on at night. I think it’ll make downtown a much safer, more exciting place to be.” He’s also responding to his customer’s comments on his own business, looking to add more savory options to the menu and to expand their hours to include nighttime service.
Streetside has earned its place as Conway’s best breakfast spot not because it minimized cost or tried to force its brand (it purposefully does neither), but because it measures its success in how positively it impacts its community, including other businesses, customers, and employees. “We feel like we’ve succeeded in bringing local producers to a new market,” Spencer said, reflecting on how the restaurant has done since its inception, “now we want to help shape downtown into a better place to live and do business.” It’s for this reason that Streetside is thriving now and will continue to shape how people see downtown Conway.
Streetside is open Tuesday-Sunday from 8AM-2PM and offers a variety of sweet and savory breakfast food and coffee. It is located on 1321 W. Oak Street, across from Wunderhaus, just down the road from Conway City Hall.
Wells is a freelance writer specializing in fiction and narrative commentary. A graduate of the University of Central Arkansas’s English program, Wells spends much of his time at Blue Sail Coffee, frantically writing down articles for this website or editing a novel that’s just one fifteen more drafts from being complete.