Magnolia is the home of Southern Arkansas University (SAU) Muleriders, and in 2018, it became the home of Mulekick, a fun restaurant located within a mule’s shoe toss from the campus.
Owners Burt Adams and Christy Ouei are doing much more than providing great meals and beverages to customers. They are instructing college students to be successful in the business world through a unique training and employee engagement program.
“We want to help our employees learn to be rock-star-level employees who love where they work,” Ouei said. “I want them to think back and remember the life and professional skills that they learned at Mulekick.”
The restaurant has published core values as well as an operations manual that ensures consistent performance and sets expectations on service. “Our employees are very knowledgeable about all of our menu items, coffees and locally brewed beverages,” she said. “These future leaders take great pride in delivering a level of service that is A-plus.”
Employees who have completed their college education stay in touch with Ouei and Adams, seek career advice and offer to work while in town.
With its cool atmosphere, Mulekick practically begs guests to relax and have fun. Adams and Ouei designed the innovative décor, with many pieces built from repurposed materials. Guests can enjoy food and drink in a cozy indoor area or on a large, covered patio.
Many pizzas served at Mulekick — available in 7-, 10- or 16-inch options — were created by SAU students/employees. I tried the delicious, appropriately named Barn Burner, which featured grilled chicken, bacon, fresh jalapeños, spicy Alfredo sauce and a ranch drizzle.
I also tried the tasty Popeye Pizza. The pizza chefs piled on spinach, mushrooms, feta and fresh mozzarella to create a pie as tempting as its presentation.
Employees have the opportunity to create a pizza of the week. An employee used his culinary skills to create the Biscione Pizza. His excellent recipe included Cajun spice, garlic, Parmesan, banana peppers, tomatoes, onion, pepperoni, salami and mozzarella cheese. Heck, I may have to start driving down to Magnolia each week just to enjoy the pizzas that the employees create.
I didn’t get to sample the Street Taco Pizza, so if you visit Mulekick, please let me know how much you liked it. This pizza with a cream sauce base comes loaded with a variety of cheeses, pork, street corn and onion and is finished with cilantro and a side of tomatillo sauce.
The must-try Jalapeño Poppers are a Mulekick favorite. I enjoyed the spicy, cheese-filled nuggets of goodness. Other standout appetizers include spinach dip, hummus, a charcuterie board, Bavarian pretzels and wings.
It isn’t on the menu, but do yourself a favor, and ask for the superb Affagotta dessert, which includes Loblolly ice cream and a shot of espresso. Mulekick specializes in gourmet coffees as well as craft beer.
In 2021, a second Mulekick location was opened inside the Murphy Arts District in El Dorado. So, you are a winner in El Dorado or Magnolia.