Artie Lovelace trades in suit and tie for chef’s jacket
“After being in corporate for several years, it just didn’t satisfy me. But cooking always did. Because I just enjoy people who enjoy good food.”
From helping his mother and grandmother in the kitchen to picking greens in the garden, Artie Lovelace has always enjoyed all aspects of preparing food. It wasn’t until recently, however, that he considered cooking as a career path.
“I was always a suit and tie kind of guy.”
The Conway native studied business at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and worked in sales for 15 years. On July 26, 2019, he decided to take the leap into entrepreneurship.
“After getting the blessing of my lady, I gave notice on a Friday that I was leaving my corporate job,” he said. “I had the idea for Spud Love for a while and knew the time was right to pursue it.”
Artie quietly began working on his craft, and in the fall of 2019, he began preparing meals for friends and family. They loved his food and shared it widely on social media.
“Social media kind of sped up the process. It happened a lot faster than I thought it was going to happen.”
He rented a food truck at the beginning of 2020. Although the pandemic slowed his business down for a while, the food truck ended up being a good option for people while restaurant dining rooms were closed.
“After about 30 days of lockdown, people were telling me they were tired of cooking. So, it was prime time, really, for food trucks. You can walk up and order and don’t have to go in anywhere.”
Spud Love officially opened on June 9, 2020. Artie said his business had great momentum; people were coming from Little Rock, Clarksville, Russellville, Sherwood, Bee Branch, and elsewhere. But he wanted to transition from the rented food truck to a truck he owned, so after three months, he closed the business temporarily to make the move. Spud Love reopened on December 29, 2020.
Despite the starts and stops, Artie says Conway has supported him along the way.
“One thing I can say about Conway is that, as a community, they get behind their people. I pride myself on service and having a good product that people really enjoy. It’s been a big help by being here. I wouldn’t have wanted to open this business anywhere else but home.”
Q&A with Artie Lovelace of Spud Love
If you could recommend one menu item to someone who has never been to your restaurant, what would it be?
Artie: For the meat lovers, I highly recommend the carnivore. It comes with chicken, steak, shrimp, bacon, broccoli, cheese, and a homemade garlic butter sauce. Of course, you can’t go wrong with any of the potatoes with ranch dressing. On Fridays, I add a special menu item that’s not available during the week – it could be a spud topped with homemade chili, pulled pork, Philly cheesesteak, or smothered pork chops.
Any exciting future plans?
Artie: My goal is to open a couple of different Spud Love locations across the state – maybe Little Rock, maybe northwest Arkansas, maybe in the southern region of the state.
The Conway Convention & Visitors Bureau is celebrating the inaugural Conway Black Restaurant Week during the last week of Black History Month. From February 21-27, 2021, the Conway CVB will bring attention to Conway's Black-owned restaurants and introduce you to some of the people behind them.