One of our favorite things about recreating in rural Arkansas is enjoying some local foods. While there are fantastic local restaurants in Arkansas’s larger cities, the countryside has its fair share of “good eats.”
The Arkansas Outside crew has been known to set up a grill, get our camp chairs and tables out and enjoy a meal and snacks right in the parking lot after enjoying a fun day of playing outside. But sometimes, you just want someone else to do the cooking and luckily, there is usually a local eatery nearby. Most of these places just become a part of the day’s adventure. I recently grabbed a bologna sandwich at one of these establishments, the Hollis Country Store.
Set in the shadow of Forked Mountain on Arkansas Scenic Highway 7 is the Hollis Country Store. Established in 1930, the Hollis Country Store has been a welcoming sight for Scenic Highway 7 travelers for 92 years. The store is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been owned by the Crain family since 1940. Located in Arkansas’s Ouachita Mountains, midway between Hot Springs National Park and Russellville.
This places the store at the hub of area recreation. Besides being on a scenic highway, there is easy access to the Winona Driving Tour, a gravel road route that will take cars, trucks, and gravel bikes through some of the most beautiful areas of the Ouachita Mountains. The driving tour features Forked Mountain, Lake Winona, Flatsie Pinnacle Mountain, Lake Sylvia Recreation Area, and more.
South a few miles on highway 7 and you’ll find trailhead parking for the 223-mile long, Ouachita National Recreation Trail. To the east, hikers will enter the Flatside Wilderness Area (foot traffic only). The trail ends 62 miles to the east at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. To the west, the trail is open to mountain biking for over 100 miles (this section is an IMBA Epic Trail). The trail eventually terminates 160 miles away at Talimina State Park in Oklahoma.
There are also picnic and camping areas nearby, several with great history. Visit the Hollis CCC Camp for a quick historic walk. Lake Nimrod and the South Fourche La Fave River (Water Gage for those looking to Float) offer fishing and other opportunities. Lake Ouachita is close and provides almost any water activities you may be looking for.
“We are so proud to be carrying on the country store tradition. My great-grandparents purchased this store in 1940 and it is truly a part of who we are as a family. Not only are we preserving the past, but we’re also sharing this special part of rural Arkansas with travelers from all across the United States and the world. It’s a wonderful thing.” Donnie Crain, Store Owner
The current owners are Donnie and Melissa Crain, who purchased the store in the fall of 2020 from a cousin. “We are so proud to be carrying on the country store tradition,” says Donnie. “My great-grandparents purchased this store in 1940 and it is truly a part of who we are as a family. Not only are we preserving the past, but we’re also sharing this special part of rural Arkansas with travelers from all across the United States and the world. It’s a wonderful thing.”
Inside and out, the store is truly like stepping back in time. From the old-timey fuel pumps and payphone (yes, it still works) to the nostalgic candy, glass sodas, and snacks, a visit to the Hollis Country Store is like stepping back into yesteryear.
“We’re all about customer service and providing a wonderful experience,” says Melissa.
And as for the bologna sandwiches, Melissa attributes the popularity of the store’s sandwiches to two things: top-notch bologna from Arkansas’s own Petit Jean Meats and making them to-order, just like the customer wants them. “We’re all about customer service and providing a wonderful experience,” says Melissa.In addition to great sandwiches, the Hollis Country Store also offers fuel, snacks, RC Colas, Moon Pies, and other necessities for enjoying a visit to Arkansas’s mountain country.
If you’re interested in these kinds of places we can recommend several. Burl’s Country Smokehouse (in Crystal Springs), Ozone Burger Barn (in Ozone), Gavin’s Downtown (in Harrisburg) For more, keep your eyes peeled as you’re heading down the road. Take a chance and have an adventure.
(We encourage our readers to post their favorite Arkansas roadside eateries in the comments.)