We’ve been keeping an eye on chef Matthew Cooper since he announced his departure from Little Rock’s Cache back in December.
It seems Cooper has found a home, but unfortunately for Little Rock diners, it’s not in central Arkansas. Cooper has joined RopeSwing hospitality group’s new restaurant the Belfry as executive chef. The restaurant, located in a 111-year-old church in downtown Bentonville, is set to open this summer and will focus on contemporary American cuisine with an emphasis on local ingredients.
The Belfry will also include a basement lounge, the Old 71, that will feature late night drinks and bites. A rooftop lounge at the Belfry is planned as well.
RopeSwing bills itself as a boutique hospitality company that, in addition to the Belfry, is in the midst of purchasing Bentonville’s Pressroom restaurant and moving it to a new location. The hospitality group has brought on notable Seattle chef Michael Robertshaw to run the kitchen at The Pressroom.
The restaurants are part of a growing emphasis on the Bentonville dining scene and Ozarks cuisine, which lately has been receiving national attention from outlets like Eater. A perfect storm of development around Walmart, Crystal Bridges and attention for area restaurant and chefs like James Beard Award semifinalist Matthew McClure at The Hive mean more eyes than ever are watching to see where the city goes next. Also big on the scene in Bentonville? Rob Nelson’s Tusk & Trotter, which takes local cuisine to a new level of decadence. (Think housemade pork rinds and crispy pig ear nachos.)
“There are many people that have worked hard to put Bentonville on the map and put the infrastructure in place for continued growth,” said Rob Apple, RopeSwing’s director of operations, said in a news release. “RopeSwing wants to build on that momentum and be a part of the growing group of people dedicated to ensuring Northwest Arkansas is a top destination for food, culture and entertainment.”