CONWAY, Ark. — Everyone likes a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. These places are often small and cozy, tucked away off the beaten path.
At one time that was true of this week’s Eat It Up destination— but it became so wildly popular that it had to expand!
Fast forward and The Hole In The Wall Cafe is a centerpiece in downtown Conway.
Hole In The Wall has been open for 13 years, owned by Toni Burrow.
If you’ve ever eaten her food, you’d think she had a culinary pedigree that’d challenge even world-renowned chefs— but she doesn’t.
She’s a professional interior designer from east Arkansas who held onto a childhood dream of one day owning her own restaurant.
As her son was moving to Conway for college, he encouraged her to chase her dream. So she did just that, packing her bags and setting off on a new adventure.
So, how could someone with no professional culinary experience create such a popular restaurant? Turns out it has as much to do with food as how well you treat people.
“We treat people like gold,” Toni said with a big smile on her face.
She’s also a good listener. On each table, customers can fill out comment cards to let her know how the food and service were.
Now, Toni uses the words written by her customers to decorate the former cotton gin that is now home to the restaurant.
You’ll find life-size copies of comment cards on the walls with statements like “just as good as my mom made it” or “better than Paula Dean” all around the restaurant.
Toni laughingly tells people “I used to be a small hole in the wall, now I’m a big hole in the wall!”
Leaving comment cards on each table isn’t a formality for Toni, rather it’s the strategy she uses to continue providing a consistently good product and service to her customers.
Of course, the time-tested Southern recipes also play a role.
When asked what inspired her menu, she reflects on time spent in the kitchen with her grandma.
“She would show me everything, teach me everything, and I think of her,” she explained.
What gets most people talking is the skillet-fried round cornbread. You won’t find anything like it around here. It’s good!
Hole In The Wall Café is located at 1016 Markham Street in Conway and is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.