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Jazz in the Park

August 19th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Little Rock is a busy city with a thriving art scene.  No matter what the season, you can be sure to find something exciting happening around the city.  This September, on Wednesday nights from 6 pm – 8 pm., Jazz in the Park continues its partnership with Art Porter Music Education, Inc. in the Riverfront Park.
Art Porter Music Education, Inc. (APME) continues its mission of keeping the musical legacies of local jazz statesman Art Porter, Sr. and his son, renowned saxophonist Art Porter, Jr. alive with community enrichment opportunities, volunteerism, and the awarding of scholarships. Through music, APME works to enhance education by helping students improve reading, language and mathematical skills. The partnership with the River Market to support Jazz in the Park, a free, family-friendly event featuring jazz in downtown Little Rock, is a natural fit for both organizations.
Jazz in the Park Fall Lineup:
September 2 – Dizzy Seven
September 9 – Acoustix w/Rod P
September 16 – That Arkansas Weather
Sepember 23 – Syn RG
September 30 – Twice Sax
Enjoy the laid-back vibe of Jazz in the Park and then continue to relax on the veranda of The Empress.  The air of relaxation will follow you to your room with feathertop beds and jacuzzi tubs.  Enjoy a weekend free of all worries with us!

A Daytrip to Hot Springs should include Bathhouse Soapery

August 18th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium, Hot Springs AR.

A stay of 2 or more days at The Empress could always include a daytrip to our charming neighbor, Hot Springs.  On Central Avenue in Hot Springs on Bathhouse Row, sits a store quite fitting for the Spa City. Bathhouse Soapery is a boutique geared towards helping people celebrate their “me” time.

“I love the people that come to the city,” said owner Charlene Simon. “I just love watching them [customers] experience stuff…When this space became available, we took it immediately.”

The mother of three described her store and products as an adventure in indulgence. When you’re always putting your needs and desires ahead of everyone else, Simon says relaxing is a must.

“Not everyone can escape to Hot Springs when they want. It’s not about the soaps, it’s about the people that walk through the door… The only time that I ever really got time to myself was in the bathroom,” she laughed. “Not everyone can go and take a mud bath, so I was like how about a cool bar of soap that someone can put in their shower?”

Seven days a week you’ll find customers sampling the aromas and textures of their hand-blended bath and body products. Sixty varieties of scents are available from sweet tea to cherry almond. There’s even a bacon flavored for Hog fans!

“Food is a major inspiration for me,” explained Simon. “I just wanted a hobby.”

Simon has been handcrafting soaps since the 1990’s. She came up with her own recipe more than a decade ago and it took her about a year to develop. The bars are made off site in a warehouse a few miles away. The products are then packaged, and labeled in front of customers.

 “As long as I’ve been making soap, I’ve never changed the recipe,” she added.

Soap isn’t the only item she sells. Simon gives equal attention to other bathing essentials including body scrubs, perfume, and deodorants that all complement each other.

While you’ll find the classics year round, the bathing menu changes with the seasons with spring, fall, and Christmas scents.

“We want to pass along that joy that we get out of selling it and smelling it to them,” Simon added.

Bathhouse Soapery ships products to people all over the country. They also have a store in Natchitoches, La. and another opening within the next two weeks in the St. Louis, Mo. area.

Find them on social media:



The Empress Inducted into TripAdvisor Hall of Fame

August 12th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair




The Empress of Little Rock, a historic bed and breakfast in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas, is proud to announce that it has been recognized as a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame winner. The Certificate of Excellence award celebrates excellence in hospitality and is given only to establishments that consistently achieve great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor. The ‘Hall of Fame’ was created to honor those businesses that have earned a Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years. Winners include outstanding accommodations, eateries and attractions located all over the world that have continually delivered a superior customer experience. Winners of a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence hail from all around the world, but only the top 10% of hotels in the world achieve the award. The Hall of Fame is therefore an even more exclusive club, and one that The Empress of Little Rockis proud to be a member of.

The success has created a new high point for the Empress, which has won numerous local and national awards and accolades.  Sharon Welch-Blair, owner of the Empress said, “Receiving the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence every year was a great honor, and to have achieved a level of excellence sufficient to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is something everyone here is proud to have accomplished. Our team has always lived and breathed the satisfaction of our guests, and we thank all those who saw fit to go out of their way and recommend us to others through the TripAdvisor site. There is no greater endorsement we could seek than the recommendation of our visitors, and for that to result in this honor guarantees we will cherish it.  We feel that this is a wonderful reflection on our brand of “Victorian Southern Hospitality.”

Our aim at The Empress of Little Rock is to maintain our highest levels of service, accommodation and food at all times, achieved by our Innkeepers Deborah and Lisa, House Manager Jessica and the whole team’s passion and commitment to provide a positive customer experience to our gueTripAdvisor-Hall-of-Famests.”




Community Bakery…a Neighborhood favorite

July 31st, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

The Empress of Little Rock is proud to be a part of the SoMa District in Little Rock.  SoMa (or South Main) is a vibrant, thriving area with places to eat, sleep, shop, play and sight-see.

Community Bakery is a staple of the neighborhood, having served central Arkansas for more than 60 years.  They provide quality variety, convenience and affordable prices to local and visitors alike.  There is an on-site bakery at the storefront in SoMa, where bakers make hundreds of items from scratch every night.  A full-line bakery, they offer tasty treats from donuts to tiramisu, and cakes for celebrating events from birthdays to weddings.

Community Bakery is convenient and accessible, with a drive up window and plenty of parking (or easy walking from other SoMa locations, including the Empress).  The cafe is pleasant to eat at, with both indoor and sidewalk seating as well as free WiFi.

We suggest that you stop by Community Bakery on your way back to the Empress after a night out to pick up a chocolate rum mousse scoop or a slice of strawberry cheesecake to be enjoyed on the veranda or in the cozy privacy of your room!

Piro Brick Oven gets new name…but keeps great taste!

July 30th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Have you tried the amazing pizza at Piro Brick Oven & Barroom?  Well, don’t be panicked when you see a new sign go up, South Main’s newest restaurant and the Empress of Little Rock’s new go-to pizza place, is going to undergo a name change and re-branding.

Piro Brick Oven & Barroom, which opened in February of this year, will change their name to Raduno Brick Oven & Barroom starting tomorrow, July 21st. Additionally Raduno announced plans to add growler filling service to their outstanding curated craft beer lineup.

The name change comes to avoid confusion with Pyro Fresh Fire Pizza in Memphis. They decided a name change now early on in the restaurant’s life would help prevent potential confusion and allow easier expansions into new markets down the road.

“This is simply a name change, not a new restaurant by any means,” says Bart Barlogie, co-owner of the restaurant. “The top priority will continue to be the quality of our menu and customer service. We can’t thank our customers enough for the overwhelming support over the past few months and can’t wait to share this next chapter with them.”

Barlogie says “raduno” translates to mean a place of gathering, meeting, get together, or rally in Italian. Raduno Brick Oven & Barroom hopes they will continue to do just that by serving as a place for people to spend time together and enjoy great food.

The name change will officially take place on July 21. Hours will remain the same: Tuesday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Happy hour specials include $2 off draft beer and $1 off wines by the glass and specialty cocktails Tuesday-Friday from 3-6 p.m.

Southern Gourmasian and Stone’s Throw Unite!

July 27th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Southern Gourmasian invites guests to spend a fabulous evening at their new downtown brick and mortar location for a dinner pairing unique dishes from the kind of Little Rock food truck scene with beers and ciders brewed by Stone’s Throw Brewing. Chefs Justin Patterson and Pat Beaird will prepare five courses of Asian-Southern fusion cuisine to pair with six different artisanal brews. Chefs and brewery representatives will be on hand to talk about each paring and chat over dinner. Tickets are $50 per person with a limit of 50 guests.

This event with Southern Gourmasian is part of the Summer Supper Series presented by the Quapaw Quarter Association, a group that supports historic preservation in Little Rock and to which the Empress of Little Rock proudly belongs.  All summer long the QQA has been treating guests to gourmet meals and unique locations.

Enjoy the dinner (and the fresh

brewed pairings) and then take a cab back to the Empress for a night of luxury in one of our spa suites.  Enjoy our jacuzzis and steam showers and then sink into a wonderfully soft feather bed.


Mindbender Mansion at the Museum

July 16th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Are you a fan of puzzles, scavenger hunts and other brainteasers?  Then Little Rock’s Museum of Discovery has the exhibit for you!

Open March 7 – September 7 at the Museum of Discovery!

Mister E. and the Mindbender Society invite you to enter the wonderfully puzzling world of Mindbender Mansion, an eclectic place full of puzzles, brainteasers, and interactive challenges guaranteed to test the brain power and problem solving skills of even the most experienced puzzlers. Adults and children alike will enjoy exercising their minds as they try to master each of the 11 individual brain teasers and the three group activities in this fun and unconventional new exhibit.

Visitors to Mindbender Mansion will be greeted by the wacky Mr. E., master brainteaser and puzzler extraordinaire, and current curator of the Mindbender Society. He will explain the mysteries of Mindbender Mansion and how to become a member of the eccentric Mindbender Society by gathering hidden clues and secret passwords. The clues can only be found by solving key puzzles found in select themed areas.

Throughout the exhibit visitors will find a combination of tabletop brainteasers they can solve on their own and larger group challenges that require assistance from their fellow mansion guests.

The group challenges include:

  • Feeding Frenzy-Kitchen mayhem is guaranteed in a race to beat the clock by filling T.V. dinner trays (with five kinds of food) on a fast moving conveyer belt.
  • Spelling Fever-Hopscotch meets Scrabble® in this race to spell correct words within a limited amount of time by hopping on letter squares that light up.
  • Amazing Maze-In this version of the classic steel ball labyrinth game visitors must work together to tilt a table in different directions, guiding a ball into six holes as quickly as possible.

Upon completing each of the select brainteasers and group challenges, visitors will have gathered the necessary clues and secret passwords to become a member of the Mindbender Society and add their portrait to the “Wall of Fame.”

Stay at the Empress during the hot summer months and enjoy this cool indoor experience!

Antiques Roadshow comes to Little Rock!

July 9th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Arkansans, now is the time to break out that antique clock that grandma said was valuable, the painting you got at a garage sale and the vase that you think is a ming dynasty original…Antiques Roadshow is coming to Little Rock!  Come stay at the Empress and bring those valuables with you to be appraised!  Is it worth $10 or $10,000?  Does everyone remember the Will and Grace “Antiques Roadshow Face?”


Saturday, July 25th, 2015

Statehouse Convention Center
101 East Markham Street,
Little Rock, AR 72201

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW will be located in the Governor’s Halls I – IV. On Tour:

How the Event Works

You’ve received your ticket, decided which two treasures to bring along, and now you’re ready to hear the history behind your items. As you prepare to attend an ANTIQUES ROADSHOW taping event, here’s what you can expect.

8 Easy Steps

Step 1: Are You Ready for Some ROADSHOW?
Before you come to the event, don’t forget your ticket and two items for appraisal.

Step 2: It’s Show Time!
On the day of the event, please plan to arrive at the venue no earlier than 30 minutes before the entrance time on your ticket. Present your ticket to the volunteers at the entrance and your ROADSHOW adventure begins.

Step 3: Waiting in the Wings
You will enter the event and line up according to the time on your ticket. Please wear comfortable shoes as the venues have concrete floors. If you or your guest have difficulty standing for long periods of time, please bring a small, lightweight, and portable chair or wheelchair.

While you wait to enter the television production area, you’ll enjoy meeting fellow guests and seeing their special items.

Step 4: Show Us Your Items
After waiting in the appropriate line according to the time on your ticket, it is time to show your treasures to a generalist appraiser who will give you two appraisal category tickets for the items you’ve brought. Each category ticket will allow you to receive one appraisal. There are over 20 categories in all, everything from Folk Art to Furniture.

Step 5: Ready for Your Close-Up?
When you have your category tickets, a volunteer will escort you to the appropriate appraisal line to learn the history and value of your item. Some tables will be busier than others, so you may have to wait in line again before you meet one of our appraisers.

If an appraiser thinks your treasure would make an interesting TV segment, he or she will call for a producer to see if your items should be taped for the show. If selected, you’ll be escorted to the Green Room, where you’ll have make-up applied, sign a release, and wait for your turn to be on camera!

Step 6: Take a Bow
Once you’ve received your appraisals, and as you exit the production area, you may want to stop by the “Feedback Booth” for a chance to record some thoughts about your ANTIQUES ROADSHOW experience for possible inclusion in a future ROADSHOW episode.

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW sees over 5,000 people and our 70 to 80 appraisers appraise over 10,000 items per event. When your appraisal is complete, please make your way to the exit so others can take their turn.

Step 7: Thank You… And Thanks to our Sponsors
At the exit, please visit our valued sponsors and the local PBS station who would like to thank you for attending and supporting ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. There you will also have a chance to collect information about our appraisers.

Step 8: Visit Us on TV and the Web
Your tour with ANTIQUES ROADSHOW doesn’t have to stop at the event. Visit us online:

Track the summer’s discoveries and upcoming broadcasts at

Like us on Facebook at

Follow @RoadshowPBS on Twitter for live, behind-the-scenes updates

Then, tune in Monday nights at 8/7C* and 9/8C* on PBS to stay on the road with ANTIQUES ROADSHOW all year long!


Historic Arkansas Independence Day

June 30th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Celebrate Independence Day as it was celebrated on the Arkansas frontier at the Historic Arkansas Museum. The afternoon activities include an old-time patriotic parade, 19th century music and encounters with people from the past.

Cheer “huzzah” during a reading of the Declaration of Independence and sign your own copy in the print shop. Watch out for Red Coats! This year marks the 240th anniversary of the start of the revolution, and in commemoration, history lovers are invited to watch a reenactment of two battles and a duel on the lawn near the farmstead.

Children can walk on stilts and play other pioneer games, and they’ll be invited to take up brooms and wooden rakes to train with the militia. They will also have the opportunity to create flags, streamers and signs to use in the parade and then enjoy free watermelon and ice-cold lemonade!

Join locals and visitors alike at the Historic Arkansas Museum for an afternoon of old-fashioned fun! The fun starts at 1:00 p.m. with the parade at 3:00 p.m.  All activities are free and open to the public.

The Empress is your perfect headquarters for Independence Day fun.  Join us in the morning for a patriotic brunch on the Empress grounds with all of our guests, friends, family and neighbors from the historic Quapaw Quarter Neighborhood.  Afterwards you can enjoy 4th of July past at the Historic Arkansas Museum, then walk a few blocks to the Rivermarket for Pops on the River with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and fireworks over the Arkansas River.  Independence Day is an exciting holiday, and we would love to share it with you!

Little Rock Arts Scene

June 26th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

With temperatures soaring to record highs, our guests have been wanting to know…”What is there to do in Little Rock that includes AIR CONDITIONING!”  So to be helpful, we have put together a list of our museums and exhibits that will keep you inside and cool, all the while seeing some fun and amazing arts and culture!

On Exhibit
9th & Commerce, MacArthur Park
54th Annual Young Arkansas Artists Exhibition. T hru July 26. 
30 Americans. Thru June 21.
A Humble Hum: Rhythm of the Potter’s Wheel. Thru June 21.
Paul Signac Drawings and Watercolors: The James T. Dyke Collection. Thru July 19.
Art in Context. Ongoing.

ASI Building, 401 President Clinton Avenue
White River Memoirs. Thru July 25.
Arkansas Printmakers Exhibition. Thru June 27.
Christ Church Arts
509 Scott Street

The Plein Air Painters of Arkansas. Painters include Victoria Harvey, Clarence Cash, Tom Herrin, Greg Lahti, Sean LeCrone, John Wooldrige and Diana Shearon. Thru June 30.

1200 President Clinton Avenue
Dinosaurs Around the World, produced by Imagine Exhibitions. Thru October 18.
Super Summer Saturdays start June 20!
120 River Market
Esse Purse Museum
1510 South Main, SoMa
What’s Inside: A History of Women and Handbags, 1900-1999.
Pyramid Place, 221 W. 2nd
WPA (Works Progress Administration) & Art from the Great Depression (1930s-1940s) 
Greg Lahti
200 E. Third
We Walk in Two Worlds: The Caddo, Osage and Quapaw in Arkansas
History of the Bowie Knife
Arkansas Made: Arkansas Made Gallery
MacArthur Park, 503 E. 9th Street, free admission
Waging Modern Warfare: General Wesley K. Clark
Vietnam, America’s Conflict
Undaunted Courage, Proven Loyalty: Japanese American Soldiers in World War II
501 W. 9th Street
Freedom! Oh, Freedom! Thru December 31. 
500 President Clinton Avenue
Mindbender Mansion . Thru September 7.  
300 W. Markham Street
Different Spokes. Thru February 2016.
Ongoing: Arkansas First Ladies’ Gowns; Pillars of Power; On the Stump: Arkansas Politics, 1819-1919; First Families of Arkansas; As Long as Life Shall Last: The Legacy of Arkansas Women.
602 President Clinton Avenue
Jim Blote Wildlife Photography. Thru June.
Arkansas Wildlife Federation Kids Traveling Art Exhibit. Thru June.
Fish feeding every Wednesday, 2 p.m.
Alligator feeding every Friday, 2 p.m.