A lot of business activity has been taking place over the last several months. Conway and Faulkner County have seen the opening of several new restaurants and businesses as the economy shifts into higher gear. Most assuredly, there is more to come as we transition into fall.

T.H.I.N.K Coffee opened up on August 2 in the small drive-thru stand on Harkrider by Eat My Catfish. Owners John and Jo Keith offer “Therapy IN a Kup” as a way to support special needs children and their families. Their oldest son has cerebral palsy, ADHD and is on the autism spectrum.

Ten percent of the shop’s proceeds will go to organizations that can bring needed resources to families who have children with special needs. The Keiths are already working with Community Connections, a non-profit that provides extra-curricular activities for children with special needs and supports their families.

The Keiths began planning this venture last fall, holding yard sales and setting up a GoFundMe to buy the coffee equipment. T.H.I.N.K gets its beans from Blue Sail coffee and offers expressos, cold/frozen drinks, non-coffee drinks as well as fruit, muffins and cookies. Hours are 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Pizza Ranch, at 955 Covington Way off Dave Ward Drive, will hold its grand opening on Monday, August 27 at 11 a.m. Although this is the first location in Arkansas, Pizza Ranch has locations in 13 other states. The restaurant, based in Iowa, features a “Buffet Your Way” that includes specialty pizzas as well as fried chicken as well as sides and salads. There are also a variety of dessert pizzas.

Conway is getting another escape room. Ozark Escape Conway is renovating space at 505 E. Dave Ward, Suite 3. Ozark Escape already has two locations in Fayetteville and Little Rock, but it was recently acquired by a new owner from Conway.

According to information released, the emphasis moving forward will be to focus more on the experience rather than the escape. Ozark Escape Conway will feature six interactive rooms with varying levels of difficulty and unique storylines. The rooms are designed for engagement and replay-ability.

There has been much wailing among catfish connoisseurs in the area over the closure of Cadron Creek Catfish House in Bee Branch. The closing of this seafood buffet destination came as a surprise to many. Our family frequently made the trip up Highway 65 and actually ate there the weekend before it closed.

Reports are that Mrs. James is tending to family. This closing appears to be the last of a series of closings of longtime restaurants owned by the James-Bryant family. The Fish House in Conway, owned by Donald and Dede Bryant, closed last year.

For those following the storyline regarding the closing of John Daly’s Steakhouse, news is beginning to surface about a new venture for the former owners. They are opening a “lifestyle” bar and restaurant called Live Life Chill in the former Revolution Restaurant at 300 President Clinton Avenue in Little Rock’s River Market. The grand opening is scheduled for September 27-28.

Just a reminder that Donaghey Hall is scheduled to get some new restaurants this fall. Aramark, which takes care of UCA’s food and drink needs, contracted with Twisted Taco and Einstein’s Bagels to move into the storefronts formerly occupied by Mosaique and Blue Sail Coffee. The Einstein’s Bagels in the Student Center will also remain open.

Know of any new restaurant or business ventures headed to Conway? Send news to Cindy Beckman at beckman@windstream.net