Connect with Local Table

The design of Brick Avenue Lofts is more than bricks, cypress, and smart thermostats.

The design of Brick Avenue Lofts is more than bricks, cypress, and smart thermostats.

As our team planned the community, we knew that many residents would be new to Bentonville, and many might not start out with a big network of friends and family here. For Brick Avenue to become home, we knew it would take more than just beautiful apartments. To plant the seeds of community, the Brick Avenue team curates a series of programs to bring neighbors together. Drawing from the Specialized Playbook, sharing food is a cornerstone of these programs.

Ashley Sutterfield is one of Brick Avenue Lofts’ community partners, helping to create experiences that weave residents into the fabric of the Bentonville community. An accomplished butcher and food scientist and tiny home aficionado, Ashley is the founder of The Local Table, which uses food as a means to something more. Connection Quarterly, the Specialized newsletter, recently caught up with Ashley to learn more.

Connection Quarterly: In a nutshell, what is The Local Table?

The Local Table is about building community around food. We create food experiences that curate conversation for the purpose of building relationships. Our experiences are intentionally designed to allow guests to feel at ease and share a part of who they are.  

We host Food Tours at 8th St Market where we explore the menus at 6 different restaurants and shops. All the while I share the stories of the people behind the each stop. It connects guests to community and creates a sense of belonging. At the end of each tour we ask guests to tell us what their interests are. I send each guest a personalized itinerary for their time in NWA so they can experience community deeply. It doesn’t take long for guests to email and say they are ready to move to NWA because they felt like they belonged here.  

We also host The Gathering Table, an intimate dinner experience, as well as pop up events in partnership with local businesses. The Local Table was created as a way to support other local businesses. There is a richness in supporting local businesses, relationships that take our roots deeper in community.  Our restaurant partners are not just partners, they are our family.  


CQ: What inspired you to create The Local Table?

There is an old saying that “When we eat together we become family”. When we talk about food we become passionate and when we are seated around food we become more vulnerable. This way of communing together is universal. Over the years I have seen the benefits of living in community together (reduced stress, more living in the present moment, relationships that go deep, people who truly care for one another). The Local Table was inspired by the idea that through food, we can build a community in Northwest Arkansas where people feel connected and fulfilled in life.  

Ashley Sutterfield sets a beautiful table in the library at Brick Avenue Lofts

“Through food, we can build a community in Northwest Arkansas where people feel connected and fulfilled in life.”

CQ: Food is a part of everyday life, but how can we be more intentional about connecting with nature through food?

What a rich question!  Braiding Sweetgrass is a book that speaks to my soul and reminds me that our food comes from the earth. To connect to nature is to be intentionally grateful. To be mindful in conversation and aware of the source of food connects us to humankind and nature in a deep way. Simplicity in food is such a gift.Think of the pride we have when we visit a local you-pick apple orchard. We don’t have to make foods complex for them to bring people together.  Slice an apple and serve it with cheese, put the tea kettle on and invite a friend over. See where conversation leads and how much more you feel rooted in community because you picked the apples yourself. There’s a connection to nature that makes us more rooted in our community.  


CQ: Julia Child famously said that a party without cake is just a meeting—what is it about food that brings people together?  Can you tell me a story about how you’ve seen food connect people?

Food is what connected me to NWA. When I began my career here a decade ago, I worked in an office with a group of people who had also moved here from out of state. We would go to lunch at Loafin’ Joe’s every week. We shared life over ranch chips. We laughed, we cried, we experienced marriages and divorces, births and deaths, career advances and setbacks. We shared connection. We joke that Loafin’ Joe’s ranch chips bonded us for life. This weekly meal together is what rooted me in Northwest Arkansas. It made us each feel like we belonged here. We’ve all gone on to separate careers, but we still get together for ranch chips. We just shared our 5th annual weekend away together and ranch chips made the road trip with us! It’s intriguing that something so simple can hold so much value in memories.


CQ: Tell us more about The Gathering Table.

The Gathering Table is an intimate dinner experience with a single conversation for the evening.  Twelve guests gather around the table for a family-style meal where we share life together. The topic is communicated prior to the dinner so guests come prepared to share their perspectives.  As dinner host I guide conversation through questions that move us from a personal perspective, to a collective impact by the end of the meal. We eat a wonderful meal and share incredible conversation that allows us to recognize the humanness in each person.  We come to the table as strangers and leave as connected friends. We build community around The Gathering Table.  


CQ: What collaborations do you have in store for Brick Avenue Lofts?

Brick Ave has the most incredible table for community to gather around! We are looking forward to hosting a dinner experience that creates conversation to build relationships amongst residents. We’re excited to curate experiences that create community and make NWA feel like home. Experiences that say “you belong here”.  

The original version of this story by Sarah King with photos by Zac Trout appeared in Connection Quarterly, our newsletter.

48 hours to dine in NWA? Read Ashley’s recommendations.

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