Although long past the morning coffee rush, Dave Bisceglia cut the ribbon on one of White Hall's newest businesses, Zara Coffee Shop, promptly at noon March 15.
Several White Hall Chamber of Commerce members and city officials, along with approximately 12 employees, were on hand to welcome them.
"We're now serving coffee," said Bisceglia, general manager, a few days after the opening. "Already, we're seeing a lot of traffic," he said about their 7211 Dollarway Road location.
Amanda Johnson of White Hall was at the grand opening.
"I tried the white chocolate latte, it was excellent." Then she admitted, "I have been back two times."
Mayor Noel Foster was there to welcome Zara's.
"I have been amazed at the community support for Zara Coffee," Foster said.
Bisceglia agreed, saying, "We received an outstanding welcome."
Kevin Bonnett, chamber president, said, "We are so excited to have Zara Coffee in White Hall. We, at the chamber, wish them nothing but success and look forward to having them in White Hall for many years to come."
If the mayor has anything to do with it, their footprint will grow.
Bisceglia oversees the operation of Zara's and two Kemuri restaurants, both located in Little Rock. These fall under the Zara Bistro USA LLC umbrella, and are owned by Dr. Meraj Siddiqui of Little Rock.
"Mayor Foster has been recruiting us for years and wants us to open a restaurant," Bisceglia said.
"I am actively recruiting Dave and his group to open a restaurant similar to Kemuri's (Japanese fusion)," Foster said. "They are great operators, and they have great food and customer service."
They are strongly considering it.
"We're looking for an additional site," Bisceglia said.
Like the newly opened Simmons Bank branch on Sheridan Road, the first Zara location is modern and eye-catching, and like Simmons, the first Zara's store will serve as a prototype of more Zara Coffee Shops to possibly follow.
Bisceglia is more than a general manager and works on new concepts.
"This prototype will help us. We will learn that some things need to be done differently or kept the same, and at future sites, we may add a walk-up window or a dine-in coffee shop."
"We pride ourselves on providing organic, fair trade tea and coffee," Bisceglia said. "We work with local dairies and bakeries to source the freshest and tastiest additions to your coffee."
Inside the drive-thru-only building, the staff, including trained baristas, brew up a bevy of flavorful beverage delights.
Currently, there are about a dozen employees but Bisceglia wants to add a few more to cover the seven-day-a-week schedule.
"Our biggest fear was staffing, but so far that hasn't been a problem...We're hiring locally from the White Hall and Pine Bluff [area]," Bisceglia said.
"We offer a wide variety of hot and iced drinks, and we also provide savory and sweet food options," Bisceglia said.
Zara's has the "now expected, almost regular" offerings like drips, mochas and Americanos, and a variety of lattes that can be personalized to taste with the addition of any one or more of their dozens of add-ons, including flavorings, custom froths, milk and milk alternatives and plenty of syrups like toasted marshmallow and maple.
The menu also includes the unexpected such as lattes like honey lavender/rose and dirty chai lattes, and a drink called the Undertow that's described as a barista favorite.
And yes, they have teas, energy drinks and Italian sodas and creamy coladas, and bagels, breads, muffins and more.
They offer 12-, 16-, 20- and 24-ounce sizes--depending on the drink. Unless ordering an espresso, then it's solo (single), doppio (double) or triplo (triple).
Zara Coffee Shop is open Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.