I have been office-less for over 4 years now, one thing that is critical is finding a good space to meet people and change environments to get work done. My home office is fantastic, thanks to a recent upgrade, but I still find myself in frequent need of an external location. That space more often than not is a coffee shop.
Thankfully Little Rock has come a long way since we did our first round up of coffee shops to work from. For this we are less concerned with coffee quality, although that is important, and more concerned with atmosphere, noise level, available tables, outlets, and internet quality. After doing some work around town here is our breakdown.
Guillermo’s was a local coffee shop before local coffee shops were cool. The location tucked away behind a Chili’s on Rodney Parham might be the best indication of this fact. Over the past several years as the number of coffee shops grew in Little Rock, Guillermo’s went into decline. Thankfully for remote workers, new ownership is starting to make huge strides in making this a premier coffee destination again.
It matters because Guillermo’s may be the best place to work remote in the city. Solid internet, good outlets, plenty of varied space, and it is all relatively quiet. As a huge bonus Guillermo’s has a private meeting room you can reserve for meetings that require it, something no one else offers. The knock is going to be location. It is on the edge of West Little Rock, but it is hard to connect with folks anywhere east of 430, plus the external strip mall experience doesn’t feel initially inviting. There is a huge bonus though for private parking spots, especially when the rest of the center starts to fill up.
Overall, location aside, it is the most flexible work environment. It stays quiet so you can hammer out some computer work, has nice meeting areas, and is quiet for conversations.
Mugs was once the crown jewel of working remote in Little Rock. It was often packed with folks working and having meetings, so much so that it received a little backlash from previous ownership who were not always friendly (sometimes justifiably) to people setting up shop in the Argenta spot.
The business went through an ownership change late last year, and while the coffee quality may have dipped a bit here, it is now a worker friendly place to work again. The internet quality is always top notch, using the fastest Comcast available right now. Seating is usually available, especially if you do not mind sharing a table. The location in Argenta is a bit out of the way for some folks, but the overall noise level is typically at a minimum so it makes for a good meeting spot for people who are willing to come.
Overall it is one of the best all around work spaces, especially if you are not overly concerned with an artisan cup of coffee. The meeting environment is good, but the location detracts a bit.
Mylo is a frequented spot for a lot of meetings. The nice central location and good coffee make it easy to suggest as a spot to meet. The space has decent outlets, and most of the tables are private so you are not stuck having an important business meeting at a communal table.
On the flip side, the space is often very busy and tables can be at a premium. We have had several meetings need to move due to lack of seating. It also can get very noisy at times, which hurts important meetings. The internet quality is one of the worst in the city, expect to have occasional drops and slow speed. The new expansion helps with noise and adds some additional seats which helps a lot. If you are lucky enough to get one of these spaces then it is a quality meeting spot.
Overall it is a good space for meeting folks, but the noise level and internet quality make it hard to hammer out some work on the computer. The central location helps keep it a popular pick regardless.
Conway based Blue Sail opened their third location in the Little Rock Technology Park on Main Street. Naturally being a part of the Technology Park they are built to serve folks in a business capacity. The internet quality and available outlets are really second to none. You find hidden outlets and charging ports tucked in every imaginable space.
The seating downstairs however can get a bit cramped, and as a result makes meetings feel a little less personal. There is an upstairs space that is shared with the Technology Park, and while it is fine to sit up there, the shared aspect and high foot traffic leaves a hurry up and leave atmosphere. The parking is also typical of downtown. Either 2 hour meters or willingness to walk a few blocks.
Overall it is a great space to pop in for a morning or afternoon to get some work done, but it is not always the best meeting space. The staff is very friendly and always willing to help though.
The other new kid on the block from Conway, Zeteo settled into another business building in the River Market district. The coffee quality here is way up there, the closest you can get to having Onyx in Little Rock, which helps a ton.
Like Blue Sail, it is sort of a shared environment, but it doesn’t feel shared or rushed as much. There is not a ton of seating available, but what is there is very flexible for various meetings. The location on the edge of the River Market helps a bit too, since there is plenty of available parking, even some free parking.
River City Coffee is charming, perfect for a laid back meeting with a close business partner. The Hillcrest space is also ideal for centrally located meetings, especially when Mylo is full (as it always is).
Being small, there is very limited seating, but it is never too busy. The lounge areas up front are perfect for a meeting, and you never feel like you are on top of another person. The more traditional table seating in the back is fine to throw a computer up for an hour or two. If it gets busy however you feel the need to clear out, and the front area seating is not that great for working. Surrounding parking can get full in a hurry, which means a block or so trek at times, which is just enough to discourage the typical Little Rock front door parker from coming in.
Overall it is a good spot for a relaxing meeting. The atmosphere eases you in and opens up conversation.
Way out west in the Promenade is the often forgotten Cafe Brunelle. It is the only shop tucked around the back side of the Promenade, so the location does not do it any favors. But for a WLR meeting spot it is perfect.
There is usually very little traffic, so you rarely have to worry about a table or noise. It is tucked away enough to have a fairly private meeting even in the open. The wide open nature of a space, especially one that is very lightly populated seems to detract a bit from just sitting and doing computer work. There are few things more awkward than just hanging out with the employees for a few hours. On the flip side though, if that doesn’t bother you it is super quiet and easy to focus.
Overall it is a great option for far west Little Rock. It severely limits the people who are going to meet you out there, but if you are on that end of town it is a great little meeting spot.
Boulevard’s two locations on South Main and the Heights help provide meeting spaces that can accommodate most of your meetings if you are looking for some level of consistency between location needs.
Both locations are good for a quick meeting or even a lunch meeting thanks to a solid food lineup. The upgrades to the Heights location add some much needed space that will still fill up quick during peak hours. The South Main location still has very limited seating that is not well optimized for either private meetings or for computer work. While the Heights is much larger, it is set up more for restaurant usage than remote work.
Overall it is a convenient meeting space that works good if the meeting spills over into lunch, but not a great place to sit and knock out some work.