There’s a fair number of folks who might misguidedly believe that all of the top bars are highfalutin places found in major cities—but word is out to the contrary, thanks to Esquire magazine. In the publication’s “Best Bars in America, 2019” article naming “twenty-seven places to grab a mighty beverage,” near the very top of the formidable list is one of Fayetteville’s favorite watering holes, Maxine’s Tap Room.
The tap room got its start in 1950 when twenty-something Maxine Miller borrowed money from her parents to open up a bar in a humble little brick building in the heart of Fayetteville, and then she proceeded for fifty years to watch over generations of college students living far from home (occasionally threatening to wield a wooden club if things ever headed toward a bar fight.) University of Arkansas students, alumni and locals alike adored Maxine and her no-nonsense management style.
Now partnering with Maxine’s family to continue her established tradition of gathering and serving friends old and new, is local couple Hannah Withers and Ben Gitchel. Over the last six years, this community-focused, entrepreneurial duo has invested heart, soul and a staggering amount of energy into adding their own savvy touch to a bar that long ago evolved into an institution. They’ve added a bit of polish and style, creative craft cocktail mixology and occasional live music to what was originally a simple beer bar, but both refuse to lose sight of what Maxine originally built and nurtured.
Hannah Withers said, “We really have a magical team of superheroes that we work with, and can say that about every person who has worked at Maxine’s with us for the last 6 years. Each of them has taught us something we didn’t know about cocktails, hospitality and being behind a bar. And while we may have a vision of the way we want Maxine's to look or sound or feel or taste, these people we work with get up and do all the daily fresh juicing, make the conversations, and sweep up after a fantastic party that they throw—but don't get to participate in—every night.”
When asked how it felt to have Maxine’s recognized on such a prestigious list, Withers said, "When the June Esquire issue hit the web, we were just floored! We've been to some of those bars on the list, and they're top notch. To be listed with those places was such an honor, especially with us located in a relatively small market off the beaten path of a major city. It is extra special to be here caretaking this bar for a woman who was so present in Fayetteville, and receive a nod from the outside world when Maxine’s Tap Room is about to turn 70 years old.”
Maxine’s, we enthusiastically raise our glasses to seventy more years of making memories.
107 N Block Avenue