The House, 722 N. Palm St., Little Rock, will close after it serves lunch and dinner on Saturday. Founder Josh Blevins posted this Aug. 22 on the restaurant’s Facebook page: “On Monday of this week, I informed the House’s staff that our operations will come to a close at the end of August. … Restaurants operate on the slimmest of margins, the House exceptionally so. I’ve always been able to find ways to make us scrape by, but in the past month, our revenues have dropped considerably, to a degree that for a small operation like ours is simply unsustainable. … On behalf of both the staff and myself, we’ll all miss working for the greatest bunch of customers in town.You’ve all been a part of The House family, and it has been a pleasure to serve you.”
While a recent negative Arkansas Times review and the opening of Big Orange Midtown may have been the final nails in the House’s coffin, it was in trouble long before that. We popped in for lunch about 1 p.m. a few weeks ago, well within the normal business hours, and found the kitchen was shut down because we were the day’s first customers. The restaurant never lived up to initial promises - locavore menu, in-house bread, fantastic breakfast - Blevins made before he opened the place in the summer of 2009 (replacing the short lived Laughing Moon, which had replaced the original Sufficient Grounds). And the restaurant has had a long history of inconsistent service and food quality, and constant tinkering with the menu (it served burgers, it didn’t serve burgers, it served burgers …).
Asian-fusion RJ Tao Restaurant & Ultra Lounge, 5501 Kavanaugh Blvd., in Little Rock’s Pulaski Heights, is in the process of converting into a “casual cafe featuring Southern/New American cuisine” with a “fusion spin,” to be called Cafe 5501 in the Heights, according to co-owner Robert Tju. A grand opening will follow sometime after a Sept. 4-6 soft opening.The current patio with the sliding garage door will turn into a breakfast/brunch area and wine bar. Hours are tentatively to be 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday-Sunday for breakfast/ brunch, 4-10 p.m. six days a week for dinner. The phone numbers will remain (501) 603 0080 and 0082. Tju, a protege of Lulu Chi, also operates Sushi Cafe.
New Lulav owner Burch Wilson and consulting chef Donnie Ferneau Jr. are reportedly going to change the name of the restaurant at 220 W. Sixth St., Little Rock, to Cellar 220, and will keep it open, at least initially, for dinner only. Ferneau has still not returned emails requesting details. We’ll keep you posted.
There’s a Sept. 16-18 target date for the opening of Little Greek Restaurant (and not My Little Greek Restaurant as we had previously reported) in the former Cheeburger Cheeburger space, Pleasant Ridge Town Center, 11525 Cantrell Road, Little Rock. It’s the first Arkansas outlet of a Tampa, Fla.-based minichain with 11 Tampa Bay-area restaurants and three Texas locations (Richardson, Willow Bend and Lakeway). Thad Waugh is the local franchisee. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. Nobody is yet answering the listed phone number,(501) 223-5300; check out the menu and other details at MyLittleGreek.com or the Facebook page, facebook.com/LittleGreekRestaurant.
Sept. 6 is opening day for the Panera Bread in the Park Avenue Shopping Center, 314 S. University Ave., Little Rock. Grand opening prizes will include four “Bread for a Year” gift certificates,which will be given away during a 7-9 a.m. radio remote. The first 100 folks through the door will take home a Panera Bread travel mug and free coffee with the purchase of an entree. Additional giveaways are scheduled each day through Sept. 10. The new bakery cafe will make end-of-day donations to local food pantries and partner with Arkansas Rice Depot and Arkansas Foodbank. Hours are 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (501) 664-6878.
It may be a new outlet for the Shark’s Fish & Chicken chain or it may be something called Sharky’s Fish & Chicken going into the 4200 block of East Kiehl Avenue in Sherwood (we’re getting conflicting reports) in a building that at one time housed Feastro’s. We couldn’t get an answer by deadline at the phone number we found on the Internet, (501) 833-3500.
And speaking of the Pleasant Ridge Town Center, it’s not a restaurant per se, or even a full-time wine bar, but Pinot’s Palette, a national “paint and sip” franchise, has a Sept. 20 target date to open a studio in the Cantrell Road shopping center. The concept: Sign up online for a two- or three hour painting class with “a local, trained artist on how to create the featured painting of the night.” The establishment provides art supplies, plates and glasses; you bring snacks and buy “fine wines and beers from the studio’s wine bar.” Jericho, Ark., native and University of Central Arkansas graduate Lisa Montgomery is the franchisee. She says hours will generally be 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 2-6 p.m. Sunday. The wine bar, which will be open only when classes or private parties (and they’ll be happy to help you celebrate special occasions) are scheduled, and only for registered participants in those classes, will sell wine by the bottle ($12-$30) and by the glass ($5-$9). The phone number is (501) 588-1661; the website. pinotspalette.com/LittleRock.
Has a restaurant opened - or closed - near you in the last week or so? Does your favorite eatery have a new menu? Is there a new chef in charge? Drop us a line. Call (501) 399-3667 or (501) 378-3513, or send a note to Restaurants, Weekend Section, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 121 E. Capitol Ave., Little Rock, Ark. 72201. Send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekend, Pages 38 on 08/29/2013
Print Headline: TRANSITIONS