Mike Orndorff, the developer behind Little Rock’s Pettaway Square, has a new venture, and though it’s called Pettaway Coffee, Orndorff describes it as the state’s first nonalcoholic bar.
Orndorff, owner of Mike Orndorff Construction LLC of Little Rock, is partnering with Aaron Long on Pettaway Coffee, whose grand opening was scheduled for last Saturday.
The 1,125-SF space, at 406 E. 21st St., offers coffee drinks, of course, but also serves a variety of nonalcoholic beverages, including nonalcoholic beer, wine and mocktails. A limited selection of alcoholic beverages is also on tap: two Lost Forty beers and one pinot noir and one pinot gris.
The establishment is also working with The Bagel Shop to offer its goods. The Bagel Shop is a pop-up business that is working to open a storefront at 1501 S. Main in Little Rock sometime this summer.
Orndorff put his and Long’s investment at around $120,000.
The impetus for opening a nonalcoholic bar, Orndorff said, was the good experience he had undertaking a “dry January,” in which imbibers forgo alcohol for a month. He decided to “go sober full time.”
He dabbled with nonalcoholic beers and mocktails but noticed a lack of local options. “Everything we were having to order was off the internet,” he said.
Orndorff began investigating nonalcoholic beverages and discovered that just the taste was enough to cause the brain to release the same “feel-good” chemicals released by alcoholic beverages. “Your body doesn’t know that it’s not real,” he said. “You will naturally relax, so long as you’re drinking it in a relaxed setting.”
Pettaway Coffee aims to provide that pleasant, social setting. “You can still relax,” Orndorff said. “When you leave [Pettaway Coffee], you’re going to have great sleep and you’re going to be at your best the next day.”
The nonalcoholic beverage market is growing. Between August 2021 and August 2022, sales of nonalcoholic drinks in the United States reached $395 million, according to NielsenIQ, a consumer data provider. That was a year-over-year growth rate of 20.6%.
Orndorff’s business partner Long, who owned the now-closed Revival Coffee at 400 W. Capitol, is the coffee expert at Pettaway Coffee. Long is sourcing coffee from multiple coffee roasters around the country, including from Fidel & Co. in the East Village neighborhood of Little Rock — “and eventually some out of the country,” he said. The coffee business will be tending “to the basics while also still trying to offer something exciting for the customer base,” Long said.
“We have a few things which are kind of unique to us, one of which being our espresso old-fashioned, much like the cocktail itself but without the bourbon. We replace bourbon with espresso. There’s a little bit of smokiness to it as we do smoke some oak to fill the glass,” he said. “And we also have our coffee soda,” which mixes cold-brew coffee with a flavored “syrup concoction.” The beverage is then carbonated.
Pettaway Coffee, which seats about 40 inside and another 12 outside, employs four to six full- and part-time workers, Orndorff said. It’s open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday brunch may be a possibility. “We’ll wait and see what the community demand for our services is,” he said.