A popular Bentonville-based bistro is expected to open in its third location this week, furthering a story of entrepreneurship and community growth.
Table Mesa Bistro first opened in on The Square in Bentonville in October 2008 and is planning to open a location in Fayetteville this week. It also has a location in Joplin, Mo., which opened in November 2012.
Known for its modern Latin blend menu filled with fresh food and spices, Table Mesa quickly rose in popularity. It blends Latin flavors with some of the Asian tones that are popular in the Pacific Northwest, co-owner Carl Garrett explained. He and wife, Lindie, own all three Table Mesa locations as well as Tavola Trattoria, an upscale Italian restaurant also in Bentonville.
Take, for example, the Korean barbecue selection, which is available in sandwich, salad or taco form. The slow-roasted pork has a sauce that is basically barbecue infused with pear.
“It’s a whole unique flavor,” Garrett said. “People like the Southern roots of the barbecue but this adds an element that is bistro.”
The Garretts had a successful, upscale Mexican restaurant in downtown Seattle and they wanted to be able to grow their restaurant business. Real estate in the Seattle area was a challenge, so they started looking for a new place to call home. In her research, Lindie learned about Northwest Arkansas and the efforts to revitalize the downtown Bentonville area.
“There was a lot of things happening there and it was so close to Little Rock, Kansas City, Tulsa and Dallas,” Garrett said. “It just made sense to investigate.”
The Garretts had heard about the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art coming to town, but didn’t fully grasp the impact the museum would have on the revitalization efforts.
“We were coming here anyways,” he said.
One might think opening a new restaurant during a recession might not be the best business plan, but the Garretts were focused on making the bistro a success. They believed it would be an excellent addition to the Bentonville cuisine as there were many chain restaurants in the area but not very many unique, locally-owned restaurants.
Garrett says the path to Bentonville was “almost a spiritual journey” in that many pieces fell into place at the right moments. They initially were going to rent a single space on East Central then they learned that the space next to it was available. They operated in that space for several years then were able to expand again to a third space when Phat Tire Bicycle shop moved to a different location. The expanded Bentonville location now seats about 140.
In September 2011, the Garretts opened Tavola Trattoria, which Garrett describes as a modern Italian restaurant with Pan-Mediterranean flavor.
In November of last year, they opened up the Joplin Table Mesa location.
“We felt like they are doing a lot to revitalize their downtown and we wanted to be a part of that,” Garrett said of the Joplin location. “We’re ahead of the curve on that but we’re positioned well.”
People from all over Northwest Arkansas are known to visit the Bentonville location and a growing number of people mentioned that they would love to have the restaurant in Fayetteville.
“After about 100 people say that, you start looking in to it,” Garrett said.
The new restaurant, which will open Thursday with a sneak peek menu preview at 11:30 a.m., is located off Dickson Street at 401 W. Watson St. It is in the Legacy Building, which Garrett said gives the Fayetteville location a more upscale feel.
“But we provide the same dichotomy with the décor. The ambient touches bring in the Table Mesa feel,” he said.
The Fayetteville location will seat about 120 people and has a patio seating area, which will make it unique from the Bentonville spot. Garrett said Northwest Arkansas can easily support two of the restaurants and he adds that they are working on a completely different concept for Rogers that they hope to open in the future.
Daniel Hintz, executive director of Downtown Bentonville Inc., said the Garretts have been a major part of the downtown revitalization efforts and a part of the overall community.
“They’ve been real leaders in the community,” he said. “They came in and were sort of the start of the renaissance of cuisine on The Square.”
Hintz said he sees the couple being the same valuable resource for the Fayetteville community.
Pattie Leith and her husband live in Bentonville and they have frequented Table Mesa Bistro since it opened. She agreed that it will be a success in Fayetteville.
“They will fit in well with the mix of restaurants on Dickson,” she said. “We love the spices and fresh ingredients that they use. We are thrilled with what’s going on and they really set the bar for the ambiance of casual elegance.”