The city started by building up its farmers market, and in the four years since Downtown Bentonville, Inc. took over, sales jumped from $90,000 to $540,000.
"You start to create a customer base getting people engaged in their food again," says DBI Executive Director Daniel Hints. "The next step from there is we started to work on our restaurants."
Hintz says the local food scene is a crucial component in Bentonville's economic development strategy.
"A local food scene is really important to the identity of a community," Hintz says. "It kind of helps share the story of who and what you are."
Hintz says buying food from nearby farms not only supports small business, but also creates a healthier community overall, and he believes it also makes Northwest Arkansas a more attractive place to visit.
"If you think of those experiences that you've had when you've traveled, more often than not food is an indelible component to that experience," he says.
Chef Rob Nelson of Tusk and Trotter says the best place to find his favorite ingredients is in his own backyard.
"I think the public is starting to be more aware of where their food is coming from," he says. "The product is fresher... it's more natural."
Nelson buys local as often as he can, and when he needs pork, Fayetteville's Mason Creek Farm is his one stop shop. Rose Konold runs the farm with her husband. She says the restaurants help them survive through the winter.
"We have to have a consistent and reliable place to market that meat," she says. "We don't really have all the things that a corporate farm could rely on."
Hintz is working on events to showcase both local restaurants and producers, and he says the next step will focus on bringing in retailers and educators to get people cooking at home too.