OARK (KFSM)— A general store is the heart of any small town, but right in our area, you will find the oldest one in Arkansas.
Not only does the Oark General Store have an interesting story, its owners do, as well.
“I was a legislative assistant for Senator John Boozman and Brian was a military legislative assistant for Congressman Joe Wilson from South Carolina,” said Co-Owner Reagan Eisele.
Brian and Reagan Eisele met in Washington D.C., and got to know each other on a staff delegation trip to Azerbaijan. A few months later they started dating and knew it was time for the next step.
“We were trying to figure out a way to get out of D.C. because we wanted to raise babies away from the city,” said Reagan Eisele.
Although Reagan Eisele grew up in a town 25 minutes away, the couple never imagined they would settle down in Oark, Ark.
“I kind of jokingly suggested that we buy this place because it was available to be purchased,” Reagan Eisele said.
“I've always wanted to own a convenience store and a burger joint in the same spot,” her husband said. “I really thought it was going to be a McDonald's and a Shell station. I didn’t know it would be the Oark General Store.”
The two were married in April 2012 and they bought the store three weeks later.
“So the store is 126 years old,” Brian Eisele said. “We're probably the 15th owners to have this place.”
The Oark General Store is locally famous for its homemade pies and burgers. People travel from all over the country to get there.
“It`s a destination kind of place,” Customer Bill Morelan said.
“This time of year, we have a lot of hunters that come in,” Reagan Eisele said. “The opening weekend of gun deer season is one of our biggest weekend of the year.”
Without having experience in the restaurant industry, the Eisele’s had some challenges in the beginning.
“The staff has been absolutely phenomenal as far as helping us transition, and just showing us the way they do things,” Reagan Eisele said.
Two kids later, the couple says they are content where they are.
“I don't think I would've appreciated small town living if I hadn't experienced the city,” Reagan Eisele said.
She added, “But I did and it was fun. I had a great time, but I'm really glad to be here.”
The Oark General Store first opened in 1890 and is listed in the Arkansas Register of Historic Places. It opens every day at 8 a.m. and is primarily a breakfast and lunch restaurant.