Despite being in one of Arkansas's most bakery-saturated cities, Julie Goodnight's decision to step out on her own and begin her own bakery has been a successful one.
I’ve been following Julie Goodnight around for about 18 years now. The longtime baking goddess based in Conway stepped away from 20 years at Ed’s Custom Bakery back in 2013 to make a go of things on her own – and she nailed it.
Her bakery, opened in a spot that has rotated from being a Hardee’s to a Wimpy’s and several things in-between, faced locational challenges from the start. But Julie’s manages to make it work. Through hot breakfasts, cookies, kolaches and coffee, this bakery has made its mark.
The interior seats many, which makes it popular for locals to come enjoy a doughnut or two each morning. Twin counters sit at a right angle in the back of this open space. To the left, meaty items such as sausage rolls and pigs-in-blankets highlight the savory case, which also usually has a few containers of pimento cheese within.
This pimento cheese, this slightly sharp version, is one of my go-to road snacks. Yes, when I know the road beyond Conway will take me to Branson or Oklahoma City or even just Russellville, I know I can stop in and grab a container of this golden delight – and a fork or spoon to boot. So good, and so different from your average drive-through wonder.
That’s because yes, I can get drive-through service at Julie’s. I can also get sugar cookies glazed in brilliant colors, Long Johns filled with maple cream and dozens and dozens of doughnut holes. I can also get a fried pie to carry in-hand, in so many flavors, including rarer ones such as blackberry and strawberry and raisin. On
Friday afternoons it’s not uncommon to find a dozen flavors on those bright colorful plates on the rack.
There are beverages, too – coolers full of different bottles and cans, plus fountain drinks and coffee and chocolate milk, which Hunter must always have when we stop.
Indeed, the array of favorite treats is without a doubt the sign of a long relationship with a community. Julie Goodnight knows what works, and I am glad for that.
Next time you’re in the Conway area, head up Skyline (US Highway 65) east of Interstate 40 and pull in at Julie’s Sweet Shoppe and Bakery. She opens at 5 a.m. but closes at 6 p.m. (4 p.m. on Saturday) and never on Sunday. For more information, check out the website
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