Coffee Competition Heats Up at Tech Park


You may have heard that Blue Sail Coffee Roasters of Conway had requested that a remodel of its location inside the Little Rock Technology Park be worked into its next lease. Whispers covered that back in February, prior to the location closing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

What you may not know is that a new local coffee shop is making a play for Blue Sail’s space.

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board discussed the two proposals on Oct. 14, at its monthly meeting.

Blue Sail is still closed and not paying rent right now, due to the pandemic. Owner Kyle Tabor has asked the board to split the bill for $25,000 worth of improvements, Executive Director Brent Birch said at the meeting. The shop would pay its half of that to the park over a three-year lease period.

Tabor declined to comment on Thursday, but said he may have news to share later this week.

In an email to Whispers, Birch declined to name the other shop “for competitive reasons and to protect them and their current situation/location.” He also said this is “an active bidding situation.”

Several board members voiced their reluctance to invest the $25,000 upfront as the pandemic has caused the park to lose tenants. In addition, larger tenants Ritter Communications and Alleviant Health Center recently outgrew their spaces there.

The unnamed shop has requested a one-year lease and rent that is lower than the rent Blue Sail proposes paying and lower than the market rate, Birch said.

But it doesn’t want improvements and has proposed opening earlier than Blue Sail, which proposed remaining closed during renovations. The unnamed shop also has a license to sell beer and wine.

Blue Sail’s current lease agreement includes a right of first refusal clause. So the board voted to notify Tabor of the other offer and authorized Birch to negotiate a lease for the space that doesn’t include the $25,000 in improvements Blue Sail requested.

Members also agreed to decide between the two proposals at their next meeting.