Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal
Ashlee Long, a former bartender at Diversion, and her longtime friend, Christy Smiley-France, are opening Next Bistro & Bar on Nov. 1 during Shop and Sip, at 2611 Kavanaugh, in the same spot where Diversion was a few months earlier. According to Long, Next will have mostly appetizers, finger foods and cocktails, with a limited menu of entrees. They'll be repainting (think white and turquoise, where Diversion was monochrome) and adding a patio, where they plan to showcase acoustic music on weekends. The vibe will be classy and trendy, along the lines of cottage chic. Hours are 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 1 a.m on Saturdays. Long and Smiley-France have both been in the food and service industry for about a decade, with Long logging a significant amount of time at Stickyz and the Rev Room. Chef Matthew Gatoin, formerly with Ferneau, is designing the menu. Neither Long nor Smiley planned to open a bistro, "but it just fell into our laps," Long said. "We've been doing it so long for others, we thought we might as well do it for ourselves." She said Diversion's closing came as a complete surprise to everyone. "We had a big party on June 30 and on July 1, the doors were locked. There was a lot of interest in the location, but we were lucky, because the landlord liked our idea best," she said. She and Smiley took over the lease in mid-August.
Open. Good to see Bubba and the fellows. And Ms Lou Ann.