This is one in a series on historical restaurants in the state of Arkansas. For a look at the Arkansas restaurant timeline, click here.
There’s not a whole lot that can be said about the flat piece of ground where Highway 70 meets with Highway 79 just south of Interstate 40… other than it’s a four-way intersection you cross to head south to the tiny town of Heth. Oh, and there’s a single building there.
I suppose that building deserves a little interest. It’s been standing since 1905, and it’s housed a grocery non-stop for more than 100 years since. It’s been other things at the same time – one side used to be a liquor store, and the front part used to be a gas station – and even today, it’s also a bait shop and restaurant.
What it is, is a place you should stop and get yourself some breakfast.
For the past seven years, it’s been known as Kitchen’s Corner Store Grill and Deli (and Bait Shop, by one sign). Before that, it was run by most the same folks as Boles’ Grocery. Seems one of the Kitchens boys married into the Boles clan some time back. Boles’ Grocery goes back even further… 45 years further, back to the sixties.
The place is a mish-mash of every type of backroads gathering place you’ll find in the Delta… with a meat counter, apothecary-style cabinetry, beverages and supplies and sundries. There’s also an open kitchen with a bar for diners. The grill starts up at 5 a.m. and keeps going until 5 p.m. Everything’s made right there in front of heaven and all creation.
As can be expected for a blue collar, working man sort of establishment, meals are on the large side. What’s served? “Slammin!” barbecue made on-site. Daily lunch specials. Philly cheesesteaks and deli sandwiches. A half pound burger. You get the idea?
There aren’t a whole lot of places you can find yourself in a casual conversation with a duck hunter, a tractor-riding soybean farmer and a Memphis businessman in a suit at the same time… but this is one of them. Get off the interstate at exit 265 and stop on in, six days a week (closed on Sunday, of course). Oh, and if you need it, you can get your hunting and fishing licenses at the store, too. (870) 735-5648.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Friday, February 22, 2013
|Emmy's German Restaurant today. (Grav Weldon)|
While there are many communities in Arkansas that were started by German immigrants (Stuttgart comes to mind), and while there are many German influences on Arkansas cuisine (including fried cabbage, the slaw used on Arkansas barbecue sandwiches and the kraut on the corned beef sandwich), there are few German restaurants. Anti-German sentiment during World War II squashed much of the love for such restaurants, and for the most part we walked away from the ideas and restaurants and cuisine.
The influences do remain in other ways – in some of our baking and stews. And there are a few restaurants that have sparked since then. Of them, there’s just one that’s stood for more than 50 years. That’s Emmy’s German Restaurant in Fort Smith.
After World War II, Al Thome was stationed in Offenbach, Germany, a short distance south of Frankfurt. There he met a young lady named Emmy Werner, and he married her. They lived in Offenbach a few years, and Emmy and her mother taught Al how to cook. He learned traditional German dishes and the methods in which they came together.
After a few years, the Thomes decided to come to America. First they relocated to Illinois, where Al was from. Then they moved to Fort Smith. There it soon became apparent that a new restaurant might not be a bad idea.
|Emmy Werner Thome. (Courtesy Joe Caldarera)|
So in 1962 Al and Emmy opened a little Bavarian-style restaurant on 11th Street, serving what they called wunderbarsten – or, for English-speakers, The Best – of German food. They moved the restaurant a short while later to 16th Street, where it became Zum Deutschen Eck (The German Corner). The eatery became the place where many Arkansawyers encountered their first sauerbraten, schnitzel, spatzel and streudel.
|Al's Deep Fried Cheese. (Kat Robinson)|
|Brown bread. (Grav Weldon)|
Al and Emmy loved their restaurant, and they loved Fort Smith. But they never had any children. When they passed away, Emmy’s closed.
|The mural inside Emmy's today. (Grav Weldon)|
|Sauerbraten, spaetzel, fried potatoes|
and a Bratwurst Burger (Grav Weldon).
You’ll find Emmy’s German Restaurant at 200 North 13th Street in Fort Smith. It’s open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. As one of just three German restaurants in the state and the granddaddy of all of them, it’s a must-dine attraction. (479) 242-3669. www.emmystoo.com.