Hardy’s Words & Afterwords manages to combine bookstore, art gallery, coffee house, restaurant, and live music venue into a fluid celebration of fine food, wonderful music, and great books. Located in the heart of Old Hardy Town at 201 Spring Street, the eclectic gathering place and eatery also succeeds in creating a casual, welcoming environment that can transform any visit into an event that nourishes both body and spirit.
Words & Afterwords opened in 2006. The bookstore is located in the Old Walker House, a circa 1900 home listed on the National Register of Historic. Much of the house has been preserved, including the wood burning fireplace. The bookstore not only carries an impressive selection of over 6,000 works of fiction and non-fiction, but also work by local authors, local music, cards, postcards, and pictures of Hardy in earlier times. The walls of both the bookstore, “Words,” and the restaurant/coffeehouse, “Afterwords,” feature local art by the likes of Inga Eubanks, whose quirky and colorful photos reveal “the backside of Hardy.”
Music gets equal attention. The restaurant includes a small performance space for the steady flow of both local and touring musicians. Recent performers include Doug DeForest, founder of Lake Paradise Recording Studios, Mountain View singer and song writer Charlie Sandage, Danny Dozier, and Bluegrass Duo Brad and Brandon Apple. Live music, usually free, can be enjoyed on most Friday and Saturday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Open Mic Nights are scheduled regularly, often on Thursday evenings. Local music is also in the spotlight on the first-class sound system, highlighting work created at Lake Paradise Studios. Check the website (http://www.wordsafterwords.com/events.php) for an up-to-date calendar of musical events, as well as readings, book signings, and gallery openings.
Special prix fixe dinners are offered for many of the Friday and Saturday evenings musical events. One recent dinner offered a selection of two entrees, Greek Pasta with Chicken or Italian Sausage or Roast Pork Loin, served with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted corn on the cob. The Greek Pasta, the restaurant’s signature dish, included sautéed red and green peppers, feta cheese, and Kalamata olives, served with a perfectly el dente penne. Diners were also offered a choice between Roasted Red Pepper soup, textured and flavorful, and a crisp, colorful Spring Salad. Dinner was a bargain at $13.95. Servings are generous and the wait staff is both well-informed and attentive.
The lunch menu is also Greek-influenced, offering a Greek Salad, Gyro Salad, and hefty Greek Gyro on Pita. The Hummus with Pita is definitely worth consideration; the hummus is made fresh on site, perfectly seasoned, and served warm. Grilled Panini sandwiches dominate the luncheon menu with nine choices, including a creative Turkey, Cranberry, and Swiss and an extremely popular Reuben. A Combo special features any half-sandwich and a half serving of soup or salad for $7.95. The Greek Pasta can also be ordered for lunch for $7.95 with chicken or sausage or $8.59 with shrimp. Operators Greg Bess and his wife Beth are committed to fresh, seasonal produce and high quality meats and cheeses, evident across the menu.
Coffee and coffee drinks are consistently outstanding. The restaurant serves and sells Rozark Hills Coffee, world-class coffee roasted and packaged in Rose Bud and served at many of the best eateries and coffee houses in the Ozark Gateway region.
Dessert choices usually include an impressive Carrot Cake, a dark spice cake with raisins, loaded with flavor. Brownies are tempting and extremely popular; cheesecake, cookies, muffins, and biscotti round out the choices. The muffin and cake “shots” are a delightful addition; small paper cups about the size of large shot glasses are perfect for diners wanting “a little dessert.”
Words& Afterwords is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Afterwords is open until 9:00 p.m. on music and event nights. Call 870-856-5579 for information or if you are bringing a group larger than six. Directions are available on the website (www.wordsafterwords.com).