SOMA has become the poster child of revival in Little Rock. Once it held a handful of friendly confines among a large number of run-down storefronts, now it is frequently named the “hip” area of the city.
It was a marriage of commercial and residential growth that brought about the change. The neighborhoods around SOMA including Pettaway and the Governor’s Mansion District (where I personally call home) went through as much, or more, change as the street that brings them all together.
It is that concept of bringing together the surrounding neighborhoods that led Tony Poe to develop Atlas Bar. “I wanted a neighborhood bar, a place where neighbors could come together, meet up, and talk about their travels over a good cocktail,” Poe told us back in October.
Fast forward three months, and that is exactly what you feel when you step inside Atlas today. The vibe at the bar, located at 1224 Main, is welcoming, casual, and begging for good stories to be told. Just visiting with Poe and others involved with the space over the last few months, stories naturally flow and are made bigger than life. It feels like a natural extension of the area.
Of course, a space can only do so much. The personality of a location comes through in the individuals who work there, and thankfully Poe has put together an all-star team to open. Legendary chef Denis Seyer is opening up the kitchen as the consulting chef, building the menu and getting the kitchen running. Along the way, he is training the next generation to take over his legacy in his son Antoine Seyer, who will eventually transition into managing the kitchen.
The front of house is no exception. Kevis Smith, formerly of Cache among others, will lend his hospitality expertise into crafting an environment that people enjoy and want to be at.
Finally, no bar is complete without a good bar staff. Merrick Fagan has worked craft the cocktail menu and will work to build a strong bar. If his other work at Trios and Big Orange is any indication, this should be one of the best bars in the city. Joining him is Samira Morshedi, who did a fantastic job previously with Table 28.
Atlas is going through a series of private openings this week and next, so if you see some people in and out, know it is not quite open yet. Expect the official opening date to be sometime during the week of the 11th, perfect for a Valentine’s date.