Probably the biggest, and most celebrated, news to hit Conway this week is that Fazoli’s is coming back to town! The Italian restaurant chain, known for its breadsticks and pasta entrees announced that it had signed a multi-unit development agreement to open three new locations throughout central Arkansas.

For those who have longingly craved their breadsticks, the fast-casual restaurant will be expanding to the Benton, Conway and Searcy areas, with the first location opening in 2019. No sites have been disclosed as of yet, but I will keep you posted.

The Arkansas franchises will be owned and operated by Junior Das, Linda Bradley and Andy Patel of Pasta Joint LLC, a Jonesboro-based company that also manages branches of Dairy Queen, Smoothie King, Schlotzsky’s Perkins, and Uncle Maddio’s Pizza.

For newcomers, Conway used to have a Fazoli’s on Skyline Drive in the location where David’s Burgers is today. The only current Arkansas locations are in Jonesboro and Paragould.

The other most talked-about restaurant topic has been the sudden closing of Burge’s Hickory Smoked Turkeys and Hams. The restaurant, which was eagerly anticipated, finally opened on July 2 at 405 E. Dave Ward Drive after more than a year of construction. Various accounts have emerged as to the reason for the closure but Jeff Voyles, the owner, has declined to comment thus far.

Some social media posts have indicated that Burge’s intends to reopen in a new location after the first of the year. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help the customers who were planning to get meats there for the upcoming holiday season. Burge’s in the Heights, 5620 R Street, Little Rock will have to do unless you want to make a trip to the original location in Lewisville, Arkansas.

In Vilonia, the talk of the town is the new Eagle’s Nest Shopping Center. Todd and LaCosta Beene, wanting to help rebuild Vilonia after two devastating tornados, broke ground on their new 12,000-square-foot retail space which will include a Simple Simon Pizza as well as another yet-undisclosed restaurant.

Jim and Cidney Vaughan, who also own the Simple Simon location in Beebe, are the franchise owners of the new pizza place. Simple Simon, established in 1983, serves pizza, calzones, sandwiches and wings on the buffet every day except Saturdays.

Main Street Nutrition Base, a healthy food shop; the Beene’s Southern Exposure tanning salon, a nail salon and a coffee shop will also be located at this new shopping center on Main Street in downtown Vilonia. The property was once residential; the house there was destroyed by the second tornado which hit Vilonia in 2014. That tornado also took out most of Vilonia’s business district.

M’s Daily Dose, a coffee shop that opened in a trailer at 110 S. Broadview in Greenbrier about a year ago, has remodeled the old Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration office in Greenbrier and will be opening soon! The business was closed yesterday so that equipment could be moved. The new location will have a drive-thru on the east side of the building.

While attending Quitman Fest this last weekend, I met Alex Cottrell and Kyle Mullins, two UCA students who have a new start-up called Roll It! They have been setting up their -30-degree stone at various festivals and events in the area, creating rolled frozen ice cream in various flavors. Cottrell, a UCA Entrepreneurship student, is the founder.

Speaking of new start-ups, Winn’s Bedding Outlet, 805 Monroe Street, opened for business last weekend. Owners, Michael and Kelsey Ezell Winn, have all the name brands and lots of inventory. Kelsey is a Conway High School history teacher; the couple married this past summer.

Hank’s Fine Furniture & More, 800 Museum Road, is now temporarily closed to remodel the interior of the store and get ready for the grand opening of the newly expanded store. It is hiring more sales associates.

If you see something new going on in your area, my email is beckman@windstream.net