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TRANSITIONS

By Eric E. Harrison

This article was published December 12, 2013 at 2:49 a.m.

a-recent-savory-spoon-wild-game-dinner-featured-five-small-plates-including-this-bison-sirloin-over-a-cauliflower-celery-root-puree-with-a-wild-mushroom-demi-glace-and-rosemary-garnish

A recent Savory Spoon wild-game dinner featured five small plates, including this bison sirloin over a cauliflower-celery root puree with a wild mushroom demi-glace and rosemary garnish.

Sai Gon Cuisine, 14524 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, has apparently closed. We got word late last week from one of our sharp-eyed observers headed there for lunch that the door was locked at noon. The phone number, (501) 868-7770, has been disconnected, usually the surest gone-out-of-business sign. The Vietnamese/Thai/ Chinese restaurant had not fared well since moving west on Cantrell a year and a half ago after a Dunkin’ Donuts essentially booted them out of their lease at 6805 Cantrell. Sai Gon took over a defunct strip-center Chinese-Japanese restaurant and faced the same issues that helped torpedo its predecessor, including difficulties getting in and out of the center and a shortage of parking related to the popularity of its neighbors, including a gym and a Senor Tequila.

Also apparently closed and with the phone number (501) 753-9650 similarly disconnected: The Dixie Pig, 910 W. 35th St., in North Little Rock’s Levy neighborhood.

The target date for Conway native and former Memphis firefighter and paramedic Colby Ruple to open Arkansas’ first Pita Pit in the Centre at Ten, 12911 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, is Jan. 6. Hours will be 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 9a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday; the telephone number, which Ruple says hasn’t yet been hooked up, will be (501) 227-7482 (PITA).

Ruple says as a paramedic he frequently saw the effects of folks whose diets consisted mostly of fast food, so when he started researching restaurant franchises after moving back to Arkansas when his wife got a job in Little Rock, he decided to look for “a healthy concept.” Pita Pit’s menu (pitapitusa.com) offers white or wheat pita-wrapped meat and vegetable sandwiches, breakfast pitas, soups and salads. Ruple is hiring - call him at (901) 830-7626.

Interestingly, we first heard from the Ontario, Canada-based Pita Pit franchise-chain outfit in March 2011, when a company executive told us to expect five locations in Little Rock and its environs in the next two years, with the first expected to pop up sometime within six months somewhere in the vicinity of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. It didn’t happen; a spokesman says the the chain, which at the time focused largely on college campuses and their environs, has since gotten away from that.

A new restaurant, named either Green Leaf Grill or Green Leaf Cafeteria, has opened on the ground floor of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield building at 601 S. Gaines St., Little Rock. We have a phone number, (501)378-2521, but got only a voice mail by deadline. We’ll keep you posted. The most recent occupant of the space, which has housed a number of restaurants over the years, appears to have been the J&S Cafeteria.

The previously draped Ponchito’s Mexican Grill signs on the outside of the restaurant building at 10901 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, once a Lone Star Steakhouse, have been undraped, indicating it’s another step closer to opening (a banner on the northwest side of the building still says“coming soon”). The place wasn’t yet open as of deadline, but the phone company provided what appears to be a listed phone number we’re still in the process of verifying. By the way, the one painted on traffic-control posts at the entrance, 227-8898, is the former Lone Star phone number, which, interestingly enough has never been disconnected, even though that restaurant closed in April. We’ll keep you posted.

Somehow we missed the opening about four months ago of Wee Betty’s Cafe, 1336John Harden Drive, Jacksonville, which, according to its Facebook page, specializes in coffee, tea and food (fish and chips, sausage rolls, soup, full breakfast on the weekends, fresh-made cakes) and gourmet grocery goodies (including sweets, crisps, biscuits and IRN BRU, a kind of Scottish soda) from the British Isles. Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. The telephone number is (501) 765-3531.

And Anne Brown, who operates The Savory Spoon, a Little Rock-based personal chef service, is offering seasonal special dinner in your home at discounted rates through Dec. 20 (she’ll also sell you a gift certificate for a romantic, five course dinner for two, with a sample menu that features pear, walnut and goat cheese salad; scallops; filet mignon with a cauliflower-celery root puree; cheese plate; and basil-lime sorbet; wine pairings are extra- normally $400, now $360). Call (501) 516-1464 or visit thesavoryspoon.com.

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: eharrison@arkansasonline.com

Weekend, Pages 41 on 12/12/2013

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