Rob and Jamie Gaston are not afraid to follow their instincts, which led them to open Copper Mule Table & Tap in Bryant.
“We were watching a football game with friends in Bryant and wanted to go to a local restaurant to enjoy a great meal in a relaxing environment,” Rob said. “The only thing available was national chains. We began talking to local residents about what they would like in a locally owned restaurant.”
Based on their vision and input from Bryant citizens, the couple opened Copper Mule Table & Tap on Nov. 24, 2020. As a Bryant resident, I can attest that their establishment is a home run. It has been so popular that a patio and additional dining room space have been added due to the growing client base. Copper Mule is the couple’s first restaurant venture. Rob’s background is corporate business, and Jamie is a registered nurse. The couple, like many young families in Bryant, balance their business with the many activities of their children, Peyton, 17, Landon, 13, and Luke, 8.
The three dining areas of Copper Mule offer different experiences, as the patio is relaxing and comfortable; the entry dining area has more of a local grill feel; and the larger dining area has plenty of room for groups. The restaurant’s modern décor includes exposed beams and metal chairs, and meals are served on metal trays.
Rob and Jamie attribute a large part of the restaurant’s success to Chef/General Manager Mindy Mitchell, who migrated to Arkansas after Hurricane Katrina and earned her culinary degree at University of Arkansas – Pulaski Technical College, and to Kitchen Manager Charles Duncan.
“We have evolved our menu, and it is now primarily modern Southern and Creole fare,” Rob said. “I have fun every day. We constantly strive to improve our processes and procedures, while providing excellent food and unmatched service.”
Jamie said, “We have loved watching our customers develop newfound love for our Shrimp and Grits. Our version features creamy, buttery grits. Even people from southern Louisiana and Florida have told us they are fabulous.”
Indeed, the dish of Monterey Jack grits, shrimp, Creole garlic butter, portobello mushrooms, bacon and chopped green onions was perfect.
The Copper Mule also offers a scoop of homemade potato salad in the Gumbo, which is a southern Louisiana “thing.” Jamie likened it to trying a scoop of sour cream in a bowl of chili, saying, “Once people try it, they don’t want it any other way.”
If you are like me and love boudin, the Copper Mule has an appetizer that will blow your socks off! The team created Mule Balls, battered and deep-fried boudin balls with house-made remoulade. The Crawfish Cheese Dip, a Creole-infused queso with seasoned crawfish tails, is another appetizer that will tickle your taste buds.
During the visit, I also tried the Crispy Chicken Wings. Copper Mule is now my go-to place for wings! I may have to try every flavor option: naked, Buffalo, garlic Parmesan, Cajun dry rub and white ivory barbeque.
The Bone-In Pork Chop is offered chargrilled or fried. The 12-ounce Berkshire chop is drizzled with a lemon caper sauce that accentuates the wonderful flavor. The entrée menu also includes sandwiches, pasta, salads and many Creole favorites.
For dessert, I highly recommend the White Chocolate Bread Pudding with white chocolate drizzle, shaved white chocolate, whipped cream and pecan praline ice cream.