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Archive for the ‘The Empress of Little Rock’ Category

Main Street Food Truck Festival

September 14th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair




ms food truck

The Downtown Little Rock Partnership will present the Main Street Food Truck Festival in the fall of 2015. The festival, started by DLRP and the Main Street Revitalization Committee to help bring people back to Main Street, as ideas for a major renaissance on Main Street were starting to gel. Was it just four years ago that windows were boarded and Bennett’s and the Arkansas Repertory Theatre lonely neighbors?!  My how times have changed!

Thirty food trucks, 11 of them new to the Festival, will join musicians, artists and other vendors on Main from 4th to 8th streets, coinciding this year with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure crossing Main Street in the early morning at 6th and around to 3rd on the return. If you’re downtown for the Race, come on over for brunch! Many trucks will do early bird specials 8-10 a.m. for racegoers and fans. (Just to whet your appetite: primal biscuits covered in paleo gravy with scratch breakfast sausage, cinnamon buns a la mode, asparagus and smoke salmon eggs benedict, sausage pancake on a stick, handmade traditional Mexican tamales, breakfast tacos with chorizo and scrambled egg topped with onion, cilantro & raw cheddar with a side peach-habanero sauce, iced coffee float and much more!)

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!

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.”




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!

Pops on the River

June 25th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

4th lrPops on the River, presented by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and sponsored by Landers FIAT, will take place Saturday, July 4, in downtown Little Rock. In its 32nd year, the annual event has expanded to include more activities, additional hours, bigger fireworks show and a larger event site. This free community event is the largest Fourth of July event in the state as more than 30,000 are drawn downtown to the events surrounding Pops on the River.

Pops has continued to grow these last three decades in no small part because it has held true to its roots and continues to focus on a family-friendly environment complete with fantastic food, fireworks, Salute to the Troops program (presented by CHI St. Vincent), and music by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (sponsored by Delta Dental). It is a heralded community event that many remember for years to come.

Pops on the River will begin at noon in the River Market area of downtown Little Rock with free activities for kids in the Kid’s Pavilion (sponsored by Arkansas Children’s Hospital), a classic car show, a marketplace for shopping, food trucks and entertainment for all ages.

New this year is theMilitary Appreciation Program where all military (active or retired) can receive special discounts and promotions at the event and after the event. Check in at the main gate once you arrive.

Entertainment inside the First Security Amphitheater will include the Oh Say! Can you Sing? contest, live music by various local artists and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Music Director Philip Man will conduct this year’s performance. Fireworks will begin at approximately 9:30 p.m. and are shot off the Main Street Bridge.

The event is free to the public and a portion of proceeds benefit a local charity. This year’s benefiting charity is Easter Seals of Arkansas. Pops on the River is also sponsored in part by the Little Rock Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Chick-fil-A of Central Arkansas, Arkansas Flag and Banner and Landers FIAT.

Visit Little Rock, Tour the Empress

June 15th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

We are so lucky to be located in Little Rock, the capitol of Arkansas.  The city is full of world-class attractions and breathtaking scenery.  Whether you came to Arkansas to eat, to shop, to bike, to site-see, to hike, to find a waterfall or to sleep in a Victorian mansion, Little Rock is the perfect place for you.

The Empress is proud to be a part of this beautiful spot in the middle of Arkansas and we are also proud to be one of  it’s most celebrated historical sites.  The Historic Hornibrook Mansion tour is offered daily at 11:30 and 3:00 and will take you on a walk through the past in this amazing Victorian mansion.  We are also on the Ghost Tour trail, and invite all Ghost Tour participants up into our haunted card room.  Want something a bit more sedate?  Our Grand High Tea and Tour includes 3 courses of gourmet food (tea sandwiches, scones, and desserts) along with our famous recipe hot tea as well as lemon curd and clotted cream.  Finish up with a brief tour of the mansion and a visit to the gift shop for a souvenir or two!

Whatever brings you to Little Rock, we hope that you make the Empress your home away from home and the base for all of your expeditions.  We can’t wait to see you!