Cars and coffee roars downtown

Developed by students and supported by local businesses, Cars & Coffee roars into Siloam Springs bringing cash and customers.

Twenty-seven sports and muscle cars line both sides of the street in front of a local business, Ehrlich motorwerks, worth more than $1.2 million in cash value.

Typically, these cars would be seen in a larger city, but on Feb. 2, they came together in Siloam Springs.

Siloam Springs is a gateway town in northwest Arkansas for people headed towards Bentonville, Fayetteville or even Eureka Springs. It does not offer as many destination stops as those more popular Arkansas cities do, but that is not stopping Dustin Kessler, a John Brown University senior, from attempting to change that.

Kessler started attending a Cars & Coffee event every Saturday in Indianapolis this summer. He decided to take a leap of faith and try to start something similar here in Siloam Springs to bring the car community from the larger area together to one regular meet and greet.

Cars & Coffee has generated sales for Chris Moore, owner and operator of Pour Jons coffee & vinyl. Moore is a strong supporter of anything that could revitalize the downtown area. He attended the first two Cars & Coffee events and sold his coffee from the back of his silver Range Rover to attendees.

At Saturday’s event, Moore had a big smile on his face as he walked around carrying his daughter, looking at the cars in attendance.

“Cars & Coffee is the type of event that has the ability to introduce the downtown area to people who may not know about this great historic area,” Moore said. “Today’s event is incredible. I have had a big boost in business, and the cars and people are still coming. This is a great turnout.”

Local downtown business owner and John Brown University graduate Mike Butler also supports the Cars & Coffee event. The parking lot around his shop, Ehrlich motorwerks, and across the street are packed at almost every event.

Butler’s Audi R8 quickly became a focal point when he pulled it off the showroom floor to join the Porsches and BMWs lined up in the morning sunshine.

“I support the work that Dustin is doing with Cars & Coffee because I want Siloam Springs to be more than just what people see passing through town,” Butler said. “We are not trying to sell cars or promote our business during the events. I want Cars & Coffee to be about growing and attracting events to our community.”

The Cars & Coffee meet and greet is scheduled for the first Saturday of each month, weather permitting. Parking is available in front of Pour Jons coffee and vinyl, along several side streets and at Ehrlich motorwerks. Each meet has generated 10 to 20 cars ranging from classic hot rods and American muscle cars to European and Japanese sports cars.

Kessler looked around at the cars and people with a smile on his face. He said Saturday’s turnout may be the best the event has had.

The first Cars & Coffee, in August, had close to 35 vehicles and twice that number of people.

Kessler’s long-term plan for the events is simply to keep meeting and growing. He would like to attract more people from Rogers, Bentonville, Fayetteville or Tulsa.

“At the moment we are just gear heads and car enthusiasts getting together to see each others’ cars and talk about cars in general,” Kessler said.

The impact on Siloam Springs remains unknown. There is a potential for growth as more events occur.

For more information about Cars & Coffee follow their Twitter @SiloamSpringsCC, or visit their Facebook page at Siloam