For the first time in nearly a decade, the center of the Fayetteville square will soon be occupied by a restaurant again.
A sign recently appeared on the door of the building known locally as the Old Post Office at 1 E. Center St. on the square indicating that someone has applied for a Restaurant Mixed Drink license with the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control board at the location.
ABC records indicate that Curtis Arnold applied for the permit, under the name Cheers at the OPO.
We reached out to Curtis this week, who said he couldn’t go into a ton of detail on the project just yet, but confirmed plans to open a restaurant at the location.
“We are so excited for this project, and to be bringing this restaurant to this special building in Fayetteville,” he said.
Over the summer, the building was purchased by Arnold Holdings LLC for $2.28 million, according to Washington County property records. The company is registered to Mike Arnold, according to state records. Arnold is Curtis’ father, and also the owner of several Jim’s Razorback Pizza locations.
Arnold bought the building from Doe’s Eat Place owner Jim Huson, who purchased the 13,500-square-foot OPO in 2013 from Ron Bumpass for $1.3 million.
The building was vacant when it sold to Arnold, but most recently housed Hayseed Ventures. Before that, it was a retail space for Country Outfitter until Acumen Brands closed the store in 2015.
The Old Post Office building is a familiar landmark located in the center of the Fayetteville downtown square that served as a U.S. Post Office from 1911 until 1963. The original cost of construction was $60,000.
The fate of the building was in jeopardy when in 1974, it was slated for demolition by the Urban Renewal Plan for the downtown area. A group of citizens began a petition drive to preserve the Neoclassical Revival structure as a historic landmark. Eventually the ruling was reversed and the building was saved.
In August 1974, the building was placed on the National Historic Register. Two years later, the building was purchased by Ronald and Edna Bumpass. In 1977, a project began to convert the building into an upscale restaurant and club. Original features preserved include the building’s native marble frieze panels, classical dentals, and solid brass door handles. The electrical system, with copper fuses and fuse boxes enclosed within beveled glass, was designed by Thomas Edison.
The property is encumbered with a Historic Preservation Easement dated June 18, 1978. The easement has a term of 40 years. This agreement requires the owner or successors of the subject property to maintain and administer the property so as to preserve its historical character for the 40-year term. The agreement also gives the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program the first rights of refusal if the owner shall wish to sell the property. The Arkansas Department of Historic Preservation has twice declined to exercise the right of refusal.
The OPO has housed various other business over the years, including a restaurant and night club called the Old Post Office and Gathering Place, Hog City Diner, Stogie’s Fine Cigars and Tobacco, Sodie’s Fountain and Grill, Jammin’ Java and Bliss Cupcakes.
Curtis told us if all goes well, he hopes to have Cheers at the OPO up and running sometime early next year.