Breaking News
More () »

'The most unique place' | Safety a conversation in Little Rock's River Market

There have been many changes in Little Rock’s River Market recently, and with more people out and about this summer, safety is in the spotlight.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Little Rock's River Market has an air of change, and Daniel Bryant can see it from his front step.

"The River Market needs to do more," Bryant said. "We are working on it to make sure that we keep people coming to us."

Bryant, the owner of Gus's World Famous Fried Chick and Big Whiskey's American Restaurant and Bar, has been in the area for over 20 years. In that time, businesses have come and gone, including two just across the street.

"Am I surprised? Not necessarily," Bryant said. "Statistically speaking, I think we all know that restaurants have a 90% or plus failure rate, and so it's always sort of a feast or famine type investment."

Cannibal and Craft officially closed its doors on May 31, while The Library closed in November 2022.

It's a changing landscape that provides an opportunity to shift focus.

"You can't take your foot off the gas," Bryant said. "This is, in my opinion, the most unique place in Little Rock. It's got to be protected."

Providing protection applies to both businesses and the patrons that visit them. That's where the Little Rock Police Department comes into action, especially as more people come to the River Market for the summer.

"We sat down with the city attorney, and we discussed some options that we have in the River Market," said Maj. Eric Hinsley, commander of the 12th Street division.

Protecting the area is what Hinsley and Lt. Kenneth Baker do. It's why they're thinking of new possibilities.

"We want people to come in, but we want to make sure that the children, the juveniles that are here, are having adult supervision," said Baker, commander of the River Market division. "That's the best kind of balance that we're trying to work through."

They're proposing raising the curfew from 10 p.m. to 9 p.m. It's a difference that would require board approval, but they said it's a step toward keeping people safe.

"We want people to come in here and be able to enjoy the River Market for what it's meant to be," Baker said.

Change on two fronts— business and protection. It's a transformation that Bryant said they're committed to seeing happen.

"If the downtown is the heart of the city, the River Market is the heart of the downtown," Bryant said. "As long as it's fostering, and we're fostering it, and it's growing around it, this will come."

Before You Leave, Check This Out