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6 Bridges Regatta

September 8th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair


The second annual Six Bridges Regatta (6BR) will be held on Saturday, September 19. Rowers from across the South will compete in a full day of sprints and races on the Arkansas River. Participants will launch at the Arkansas Boathouse Club in North Little Rock and row west to the start line near Big Rock Quarry. They will compete east down the river passing the Baring Cross Train, Broadway, Main Street, Junction, I-30 Bridges and finishing at the Clinton Presidential Bridge. Spectators can find great spots for watching the events on both sides of the river while enjoying food, refreshments, and live entertainment.

Rowing has been a popular sport in Little Rock for over 100 years. In 1877, the Capitol Hotel was opened after extensive remodeling of the Denkla Building. Here a group of young men gathered to discuss how to spend their leisure time; during this conversation the idea for an athletic club to include rowing was hatched. The young men continued to gather at a men’s store located in the Capitol Hotel – Bernays & Maxwell – to firm up their idea.

In 1882 the Little Rock Athletic Association was formerly organized. P.H. Bernays was elected President. This was the first effort in Little Rock to organize a boat club. By 1883, the club had 125 members. The group charged $25 annual membership dues and was able to purchase the equipment it needed. Soon after, a wood frame clubhouse was built on the bank of the Arkansas River at the foot of Main Street.

The club had a board comprised of 10 members. In addition to rowing, the group fielded a football team which competed across the South. Since the boathouse was the gathering place for these 100+ young men to gather, the name Boathouse Club became widely used in place of Little Rock Athletic Association.

This exciting event is bringing a new generation of rowers to Little Rock and the Empress is proud to be a part of the downtown atmosphere.  The perfect place to relax after a hard day of rowing is the 200 ft veranda overlooking the gardens of The Empress of Little Rock!

Razorback Nation River Market Takeover

September 3rd, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair


The Empress of Little Rock is excited that the Razorbacks are bringing football back to Little Rock!  Do you know what else we are excited about?  Movies in the Park returns to downtown Little Rock as part of a special “Razorback Nation River Market Takeover” event the night before the Arkansas Razorbacks host Toledo in Little Rock.

That’s right, on Friday, Sep 11, 2015, KARK-TV and the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau will present a free showing of Guardians of the Galaxy at sundown around 8:00 p.m. Movies in the Park takes place at the First Security Amphitheater in Riverfront Park.

Prior to the movie, dining specials will be offered at various restaurants in and around the River Market to celebrate Razorback fans.  Check out their Facebook Page for more information.

If you were planning on coming to Little Rock for the game on Saturday, this is the perfect excuse to stay an extra night (at the Empress…wink,wink) and enjoy the nightlife in the Rock.  We promise you a cozy bed and an amazing breakfast and we hope that movies and the game will provide the rest of a fantastic Razorback weekend!

Kelly Clarkson and Pentatonix at Verizon Arena

August 31st, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

The Empress is so excited to be within 5 minutes of Kelly Clarkson’s big performance at Verizon Arena this Thursday, September 3, 2015!
Kelly kicked off her U.S. promotion with a profile on CBS Sunday Morning, followed by a performance and skit on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Critics have been raving about her new album, Piece By Piece, TIME saying it’s, “a record that’s loaded with slick power-pop and uplifting empowerment anthems,” while Billboard states, “Clarkson doubles down on songs that put her skyscraping voice first. And it sounds better than ever.” Kelly can also be seen on the cover of a recent People Magazine.
GRAMMY® Award-winner Kelly Clarkson has released six studio albums (Thankful, Breakaway, My December, All I Ever Wanted, Stronger, Piece By Piece), one Greatest Hits album, one Holiday album; has sold over 20 million albums worldwide; and has had 10 singles in the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. She is the recipient of three GRAMMY® Awards, four American Music Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards, two Academy of Country Music Awards, and one CMA Award. Clarkson’s last studio effort Stronger was certified platinum, won the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album and produced the smash singles, “Mr. Know It All” and “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” which marks Kelly’s 9th and 10th Top 10 hits. “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” was #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart for two consecutive weeks (three weeks total) marking her third #1 on the Hot 100 Chart.  In 2013, Kelly released her very first Christmas album Wrapped In Red, which is certified platinum and debuted at #3 marking the biggest holiday album debut for a female since 2010.
GRAMMY® Award-winners and platinum selling recording artists Pentatonix consists of vocalists Scott Hoying, Kirstin Maldonado and Mitch Grassi, vocal bass Avi Kaplan and beatboxer Kevin “K.O.” Olusola.  Since bursting onto the scene in 2011, the group has sold more than 2 million albums in the U.S. alone and amassed over 860 million views on their YouTube channel with more than 7.7 million subscribers. Their latest holiday album – That’s Christmas To Me – sold more than 1.1 million copies in the U. S., becoming one of only four acts to release a platinum album in 2014. In February 2015, the group received their first GRAMMY® Award for Best Arrangement, Instrumental and A Cappella for their medley “Draft Punk.” The group is currently on the North American leg of their “On My Way Home” tour which has already sold out of all of its 100,000 tickets. This spring, Pentatonix will make their film debut in Pitch Perfect 2.
Eric Hutchinson made his full-length debut in 2007 with the independently released Sounds Like This, which entered Billboard’s Heatseekers chart at No. 1 and yielded three radio hits, including the Gold-certified “Rock & Roll.” 2012’s Moving Up Living Down bowed in the Top 30 of the Billboard 200 and Pure Fiction, his latest album, debuted in the Top 10 on iTunes’ overall albums chart. A late night TV favorite, Hutchinson has appeared on Conan, The Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. said, “He’s got chops… and his sunny lyrics reveal a wry double edge” and called Hutchinson’s music “inescapably catchy.” Pure Fiction – which was produced by Jerrod Bettis (Adele) and Aben Eubanks (Kelly Clarkson) – includes the single “A Little More,” which was tapped by Netflix for a worldwide advertising campaign.
With this line-up, we hope you have tickets…and that you will be getting ready at the Empress for this fun filled night!  Rock the night away and then return to the Empress for a luxurious night’s slumber!

Acansa Arts Festival

August 24th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

The Acansa Arts Festival is a multiple-day, multiple-venue, visual and performing arts festival.  The festival encompasses both sides of the Arkansas River in Little Rock and North Little Rock. Artists of all types have helped make this area part of the thriving New South culture—vibrant, cosmopolitan and filled with charm, hospitality and natural beauty.
Enjoy performing arts as varied as: The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Jazz in the Park, poetry, a cappella, puppetry and the Saint Mark’s Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir.  With so many different styles, there is something for everyone in the whole family to enjoy.
Why “ACANSA” you ask?
Long before the state of Arkansas received its name, neighboring tribes referred to the local Quapaw as the “people of the southern place” or “Acansa” in the Siouan tongue.  ACANSA Arts Festival has adopted this name in honor of their commitment to celebrating the uniquely rich cultural vitality of our region.
The festival takes place from September 16-20.  Attend the whole festival with a multi-day pass and make the Empress of Little Rock your home base for your stay.  Enjoy modern and performing arts at the festival before you return to the Empress and immerse yourself in the beauty of late 19th century architecture, furnishings and art.

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


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 at dusk



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

Homemade loaves of bread

Fresh out of the oven!

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.