HARDY, AR (KAIT) – A local restaurant raised a glass recently to mark a historic moment in Sharp County.
The Pig 'n Whistle, located at 107 E. Main Street in Hardy, is now serving the first legal alcohol in the county in more than 60 years.
Customers can now get beer or wine with their meal at the British-style restaurant, which has expanded its drink selection after successfully applying to become a private club.
Philip and Rebecca Ashcroft opened the Pig 'n Whistle in May 2012, where people can find food like Banger & Mash, Chicken Tikka Massala and other items not normally found on this side of the pond.
"Our traditional dish is the fish and chips," Philip said. "It's a good old English-style cod battered in beer batter. That's probably our most popular dish."
Having grown up in Liverpool, Philip wanted to bring a taste of his homeland to Hardy.
Philip opened the Pig 'n Whistle with his wife Rebecca, whose family once ran businesses in the Hardy area too.
They wanted to keep that tradition alive and pursue their passion for food and culture once they decided to leave their longtime jobs aboard several cruise lines.
While setting out to expand people's culinary horizons, the Ashcrofts also kept getting asked about a drink other than coffee.
"A lot of our customers were requesting or inquiring if we had beer and how perfect it would be to compliment the cuisine we have and offer," Philip said.
He and his wife learned three weeks ago that the state finally granted them a private club license, which they began applying for well before voters in Sharp County decided to allow the sale of alcohol on Election Day.
The license allows them to now offer their customers wine and beer, including Guinness.
"Guinness was the most requested drink we had before we had the license," Philip added.
Since the Pig 'n Whistle has officially become a private club, it is only open to members who have to sign in when they come to eat or drink.
"We're here to sell our food and to give people an experience worth coming to Hardy for," said Rebecca Ashcroft, turning to her husband. "We're not looking to be a wild and crazy British pub."
"No," Philip said with a laugh, "I left that at home."
Business beyond Pig 'n Whistle will soon be able to sell alcohol after the county went 'wet.' Residents, like Denise Gibbons, say that will ultimately benefit the area.
"It's going to bring more business, and we'll probably have more restaurants open up," Gibbons said, who counts herself a regular at Pig 'n Whistle. "I think it's going to be good for our county too because we're going to have a lot more tax revenue, and I think that's going to help us."
The window is closing to grab a British dish and some beer, at least for a little while.
The owners will shut down the Pig 'n Whistle for five weeks from January 20 to March 1 to enjoy some time off and discuss possible changes to the restaurant.