Kerry A. Kraus
One of my all-time favorite day trips in Arkansas is going to the small south-central community of Keo. I have gone through the town all my life as my family made the familiar trek to England to visit relatives. We made the trip often. But it wasn’t until I became an antiquer in my late 20s that I stopped to visit. That turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. Now instead of passing though, the area has become a favorite destination. It’s a great way to spend a leisurely day doing what most people like to do – shopping and eating.
For antique lovers the Old Gin Antiques and Morris Antiques are incredible places to explore. Morris, one of the largest dealers in the mid-South, has 60,000 square-feet of prime merchandize. You’ll find fine American, French and English items dating from 1750s to 1940s in the eight buildings that comprise the store. Items run the gamut from dining tables, bed sets, armoires, desks and bookcases to lamp tables, dressers, chests, nightstands, hall trees, etageres and chairs.
The Old Gin shop, housed in the old Morris Cotton Gin, has an eclectic mix of items ranging from flea market items to fine antiques. Outdoors is a large collection of garden statuary for sale. Also in town is Goodbar’s Antique Lamp Shop which is mainly a restoration and repair business but also has some antique lighting fixtures for sale.
You’ll need a break from all that shopping and Charlotte’s Eats and Sweets is perfect for that. Better go early or later in the afternoon or be prepared to wait in line for a table. It has a statewide reputation and after appearing in Southern Living and numerous other publications, the glowing reviews are spreading outside the state’s borders.
Charlotte’s is famous for its decedent homemade desserts including coconut, chocolate, lemon icebox, caramel and pecan pies. My personal favorite, fresh strawberry pie is available only during the summer. Cakes are on the menu as well: strawberry, Italian Cream and German Chocolate just to mention a few. Old-fashioned soda fountain treats are also available. Most diners “in the know” order their dessert when they order their main course just to make sure they get what they want before the place sells out.The regular menu provides “good eats” as well — from the Keo Klassic specialty sandwich to BLTs and burgers to chicken and tuna salad with fresh fruit and salads.
Another favorite shopping place is Lisa’s Closet. It has a little bit of everything – from baby gifts, home décor items and jewelry to woman’s clothes and a hair salon.
If you decide to go:
From Little Rock or North Little Rock, take Exit #7 off I-440 and go south on U.S. 165 for approximately 20 miles. Each business has its own hours of operation. Check the Keo City Web site for contact telephone number and more information. www.keoar.com/