If you’ve taken a recent trip through Bryant, it’s obvious that the city is growing. Highway 5 is undergoing a major expansion, and orange traffic cones dot the landscape all the way into Benton. Amidst the chaos, in a small strip next to New Life Church, you will find Blue House Bakery & Cafe.
Sisters Joy Billson and Jill Averitt have no formal restaurant experience but previously operated a home catering company for a decade. Averitt refers to the transition as “the hardest thing we’ve ever done in our lives.” The restaurant is a complete family affair, with both immediate and extended family members filling various roles behind the counter; their mother even comes in every morning to make homemade biscuits. An oversized photo of their Grandma Fern’s recipe for chocolate gravy sits behind the beverage station; a delicacy only available during Saturday brunch.
The interior of the restaurant is mostly black and white, decorated in a clean, modern farmhouse style. So, why Blue House? Averitt explained that her family’s houses were always referred to by the color. Her father built the original Blue House in Pleasant Plains in the mid-80s, before losing it to a fire four years later.
“Joy’s love of baking began there, and she taught me everything I know,” reflects Averitt. So when the time came to name their new endeavor, they needed a name that meant something to them. It all came back to the Blue House. Decision made. A watercolor of the original Blue House now hangs in the restaurant.
Daily lunch specials can be found on the Blue House Facebook page, featuring a variety of quiches, salads, and comfort food favorites like casseroles, meatloaf, and chicken pot pie. Lunch leftovers are packaged and sold by the quart in the Grab ‘n Go cooler to reduce food waste. Breakfast muffins, monkey bread, and croissants are on the menu, along with fresh-baked dessert options including oatmeal crème pies, cupcakes, and cookies. Barista Crestina Guin creates themed weekly latte specials, along with traditional coffee and tea service.
Shopping is available at the location, with a retail section at the front of the restaurant. A flower stand resides near the back, stocked twice weekly by Nitzia’s Designs. Averitt sees the collaboration as an opportunity to provide access to “beautiful flowers everyone can have.” Bouquet prices vary.
Blue House Bakery & Cafe’s restaurant serves breakfast Tuesday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., and lunch from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Once the kitchen is closed, the bakery and coffee shop is open, as well as retail and Grab ‘n Go. Saturday brunch hours are 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Averitt is overjoyed by the support she and her sister have received from Saline County. The restaurant is frequently full, and Grab ‘n Go items are often grabbed and gone before end of day. When asked about what she would like her restaurant to mean to the community, she explained, “Having people into your home, living life together is rare these days. When people come into Blue House, we want them to feel at home.”