It appears that you're using a severely outdated version of Safari on Windows. Many features won't work correctly, and functionality can't be guaranteed. Please try viewing this website in Edge, Mozilla, Chrome, or another modern browser. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused!Read More about this safari issue.
The last time I interviewed Wild Sweet William’s, they were preparing to open their first retail location in Searcy. That was nearly seven years ago. Since then, they have outgrown that location and moved just down the street to their current space at 504 S. Main, where their expanded menu now includes lunch.
The bakery house moved in 2021. Lisa Ford — who owns and operates Wild Sweet William’s with Bill Ford — admits it was a questionable time to choose to grow a business, as the world was still in the middle of a pandemic.
“It was risky,” she says. “We were definitely weighing the pros and cons. Not just for us personally, but also for the community. That’s how we’ve continued to make decisions. We have a growth-oriented mindset. We wanted space for more employees and more guests from in and out of town. This is a space where people can linger, loiter and lollygag, as I like to say.”
Long tables and booths encourage just that. There is also patio seating in front of the restaurant. The line can be long, but it tends to move quickly, as regulars know exactly what they want to select from the display case and/or menu.
Wild Sweet William’s initially gained fame for their scones. Lisa calls it “The Scone of the South.”
“It has a little more cream and sugar than its European counterpart, but it reflects Southern hospitality,” she explains. The sweet flavors include blueberry, blackberry dark chocolate Earl Grey and the signature Wild Sweet William, which is blueberry, lemon, lavender and white chocolate. Savory offerings include cheddar bacon, and there are also gluten-avoidant options.
Another crowd favorite is the Czech kolache, in classic, fancy and savory flavors. According to Wild Sweet William’s, the kolache is a type of pastry that holds an ample dollop of sweet cream cheese and fruit, rimmed by a puffy pillow of supple dough. It originated as a semisweet wedding dessert in Central Europe. Classic flavors include raspberry and cream cheese and peach and cream cheese. The fancy version offers varieties such as lemon raspberry cheesecake, chocolate raspberry, banana Nutella and caramel macchiato. Savory options include sausage, egg and pesto; pimento cheese; and spinach feta with egg.
All these standards can be ordered ahead on the website or app. But regulars also enjoy rotating seasonal features that are not available online, like the customer and employee favorite strawberry basil feta kolache tart.
Sweet and savory — and vegan — focaccia, cinnamon rolls, chocolate rolls, salted caramel pecan twists, baby cakes, muffins, and cookies round out the pastry menu. There are even options for those watching their waistlines. The morning glory is a Whole30-approved, no-sugar-added muffin. The vegan baked oatmeal is baked with bananas and maple syrup, then topped with blueberries.
People familiar with Lisa’s pastries are often surprised to know that her culinary skills extend well beyond her famous scones and kolaches. In fact, she is also a master of farm-to-table, taking ingredients that are in season – often from local farms – and convincing even the pickiest of eaters that, in fact, pickled carrots are a more satisfying alternative to boring potato chips.
The addition of a lunch menu has been well received by the community. The spring edition features sandwiches and salads, and the fall menu also offers a daily soup special. The popular Mr. McGregor’s Spring salad features fresh greens, red potato and carrot hash, spring peas, radish, cucumbers, carrot, roasted asparagus, almonds, feta, croutons, fresh herbs and lemon basil vinaigrette. The Scarborough Fair chicken salad can be ordered in salad or sandwich form. Diners looking for a sweet and savory combination might select Ya Bacon Me Crazy — bacon, turkey, provolone, feta and strawberry basil jam on grilled farm bread.
Of course, a benefit of eating lunch at Wild Sweet William’s is that you get to have the best of both worlds by adding something to satisfy your sweet tooth after your meal.
Lisa offers a hint of even more exciting things to come. “Our team members have a strong pastry game, so I am really excited to focus more of my attention on lunch,” she says.
Locals take pride in the fact that our relatively small town is home to such a culinary gem, which rivals bakeries in much larger, cosmopolitan cities.
And Lisa is quick to acknowledge the community response. “They have continued amazing support,” she said. “I’m still not over that feeling I had in our smaller space, where there were all these pastries, and I would think, ‘How are we going to sell all these?’ But people show up and buy them. We’ll just keep doing this as long as there’s a place for them to go.”
Of the days when they do have leftovers, she says, “It’s a joy because we get to give them away to emergency service workers and hospital and school staffs.”
Wild Sweet William’s continually seeks opportunities to give back to the community. According to Lisa, the goal for this summer is to connect with Hope Cottage, and they are also planning a summer collaboration with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.
Sign up for our weekly e-news.
Get stories sent straight to your inbox!
We select one featured photo per week, but we show many more in our gallery. Be sure to fill out all the fields in order to have yours selected.