Before Shorty There Was Smallís

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T

his is Smallís Coffee Shop in downtown Beebe, c1943.   It was the forerunner of the highly popular Shorty Smallís Restaurant in west Little Rock.  

Mary Dean Rice Reynolds, a member of the White County Historical Society who provided this photo, lived in Beebe when the Smalls first came to town. This is her recollection: 

"Small's was located on Front street just across from the Train Depot. The building is still there [but no longer a cafe]. The Smalls came to Beebe from Illinois about 1939. There was a streetcar diner on the spot where the coffee shop was built. I think when they first came to town they worked there. The cafe was really nice for Beebe at that time. Sadie was a great cook, very sweet lady. Claude "Shorty" Small was a little fat bald man with a quick temper and a sharp tongue.  He worked in the dining room, telling everyone else what to do.  I believe the cafe opened about 1940.   I worked there when I was in High School. They had one of the first Frosted Malt machines or as some say 'soft ice cream.'  It was very poplar.  Being on highway 67 we had lots of tourists.  Sadie and Shorty had pulled a little trailer from Illinois; they lived in it behind the cafe.  I don't remember when they went out of business.  Bruce Anderson of Beebe started a restaurant in Little Rock called Shorty Small's.   One of the writers for the Arkansas Democrat referred to Shorty Small as a fictional character. I had to call and tell him he had been a very real person."