Arkansas Fresh Bakery has been on a roll lately. Owner Ashton Woodward has added a great new chocolate line in Cocoa Rouge, along with a great new cafe in Bryant, Arkansas Fresh Cafe, to the already thriving bakery business. Arkansas Fresh appears poised to expand even further now by hiring meat guru Travis McConnell, and joining forces with his butchery venture, Butcher & Public.
Butcher & Public previously setup camp along side Good Food by Ferneau in the old Argenta Market location. Butcher & Public’s side featured a meat counter and select hot food items. The partnership brought a large amount of success for both sides of the operation.
“It was fun to have him in-house and working together,” Good Food owner and chef Donnie Ferneau tells us. “We’ve both outgrown the space with both of us operating under the same roof. Good Food is doing a lot more catering and the pick up locations are keeping us very busy. We are very happy for Travis and look forward to working with Travis and Butcher & Public in the future.”
With the new venture Butcher & Public will operate out of the bakery’s production area in Bryant. Woodward tells us that they are looking grow operations by turning the facility’s building 3 into a USDA approved facility.
“We want Butcher & Public to continue and succeed. This will allow us to use our expertise in wholesale adds to what Butcher & Public is already doing,” Woodward says. “Travis has a great network of local produces. The hardest item to source locally is meats. We made bread easy, now we think we can make high quality meat just as accessible.”
Woodward stresses that this is not an acquisition of Butcher & Public, rather hiring McConnell to add value to the Arkansas Fresh brand and empowering him to grow Butcher & Public. In addition to his butchery roles, McConnell will serve as executive chef for Arkansas Fresh Bakery in Bryant.
“This is something we have looked at doing for 3 years,” Woodward says. “What I look for when hiring is someone to partner with who brings something strong to the table. Travis growing his brand and maintaining majority ownership in that is a large goal of ours.”
The addition of butchery will allow even more growth in the future for Arkansas Fresh and Butcher & Public. The group is already looking at catering, events, and even wild game butchery and processing.