BY MICHAEL REISIG –
When you have lunch at American Artisans it’s like eating in an upscale art gallery, or an uptown deco-diner – works of remarkable art surround you while you enjoy an exceptional cuisine at reasonable prices. Owners Rick and Donna Chrisman are doing something they’ve wanted to do for a long time, and it’s working.
Rick was born in Oklahoma but was raised in Fort Worth, Texas, where he graduated from high school in 1975. He went on to get a business degree and met his wife, Donna, while both of them were working for a steel business.
Donna was born in Amarillo, Texas, and went to college at The University of North Texas. After college she went to work for Ryerson Steel in Dallas, and that’s when she me Rick.
“My dad was born in Mena and I would come here on vacations, and we had friends who had purchased property here,” Rick explained. “After Donna and I were married, in 1980, we decided to buy some property in Hatfield. In 1986, we started a woodworking business, making products for national restaurant chains and handcrafting wooden boxes, and in 1995 we brought that business to Hatfield. We wanted to settle in the country, away from the city. We both loved artistry – making things and selling them – but it became strenuous, doing all the woodworking ourselves, and we loved the idea of selling other people’s products as well. Over the years we had discovered that food and art go together well and Donna loved to cook, so we decided to put all these elements together. We bought a building on Mena Street in 2011 with the intent of creating a place that would offer a pleasant environment providing quality food and unique, quality hand-made crafts.”
“Our handcrafted arts come from all over the country and Polk County – pottery, glass works, wood works, jewelry, gourd art, paintings, and artistic pop-art tables for our customers,” Donna explained. We offer free wi-fi as well, and our menu offers gourmet soups, salads, and sandwiches without the gourmet prices. We prepare and cook our own meats, make our own dressings and spreads, and we specialize in fresh ingredients with overall flavor in mind.”
From fire roasted tomato bisque, to the Santa Fe Salad (Mixed greens, roasted corn, bell pepper, black beans, avocado, cilantro, cheddar cheese, tortilla strips, citrus vinaigrette), or the Curry Salad (Roasted chicken breast, mango, red grapes, toasted almonds, on a bed of red lettuce with curry dressing) or the Sooie Pig Sandwich (Roasted ham, apple smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, red lettuce, maple Dijon spread, on grilled multigrain bread), or perhaps The Portobello (grilled Portobello mushrooms, pickled red onions, roasted tomatoes, provolone cheese, red lettuce, basil, and mayonnaise, on a grilled ciabatta bun), eating at the American Artisans Restaurant is an experience as well as a pleasure.”
The crafts that are offered at American Artisans represent work from quality artists – the kind of art not generally found in small towns. The building is a work of art in itself – blending a 100 year-old structure and the modern age, with remarkable artwork surrounding patrons as they enjoy excellent meals. American Artisans offers take out, and they host special events. It’s a great place for small gatherings celebrating special occasions.