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By Eric E. Harrison

This article was published January 3, 2013 at 1:09 a.m.

— Our senior business writer Jack Weatherly has reported that the Little Rock Planning Commission this month will take up a site plan that involves tearing down of the 54-year-old, five-story Baker office building at West Markham Street and University Avenue to build a 2,262-square-foot Chipotle Mexican Grill. It’ll be right next door to the retro-tribute-modern McDonald’s that now occupies the site of the former Bennigan’s, and would take advantage of the new left-turn lane on the widened Markham Street, built to accommodate the McDonald’s traffic.

Weatherly reports that Ernie Peters, a Little Rock engineer who worked up the plan for the McDonald’s, has said the Chipotle site plan also would reshape the intersection’s southwest corner to make it “much more pedestrian friendly.” (The corner was best known for many years as being particularly vehicle unfriendly, especially to semi trucks trying to execute a right turn onto University, many of which ended up hanging over the guard rail.)

The area’s only other Chipotle is in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center, 11525 Cantrell Road Little Rock. We will keep you posted.

Our Fort Smith bureau chief, Dave Hughes, reported last week that owners of the popular restaurant Calico County, 2401 S. 56th St., Fort Smith, heavily damaged by fire a month ago, hope to reopen by June, and at the same location where it has been since 1984.

They and their insurance folks are in the process of deciding whether to renovate the existing building or to raze the structure and build a new one. The owners did salvage what they could from the restaurant’s dining room, which was filled with antiques, old signs and other displays that contributed toward the business’ old-time country atmosphere.

And a couple of recent top 100 lists of which to take note:

Little Rock’s Ashley’s at the Capital Hotel, West Markham and Louisiana streets, shows up on OpenTable’s recently released 2012 list of Top 100 American Fare Restaurants. OpenTable made the list from more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by diners who reserved a table through the site.

Check out the complete list at aspx?ref=5743&pid=379. Ashley’s information and reviews are available at

And three Northwest Arkansas restaurants - Fayetteville’s Green Submarine and Hammontree’s Grilled Cheese and Bentonville’s Pressroom- are on the list of Seattlebased Urbanspoon’s top 100 kid-friendly restaurants.

Urbanspoon, which bills itself as “the leading mobile restaurant discovery application and reservation management system,” based its list on “a rating algorithm that includes blog posts on Urbanspoon, diner voting behavior, consumer reviews, critic reviews and page views.” Whew.

The restaurants offer the best available “choices for a family night out, with a variety of menus and cuisines, spanning 26 states and 64 cities,” according to a news release, although just what makes them kid-friendly is left, apparently, to our imagination.

The website, (where you can also find the complete list) offers this hint: “The key to a great kid-friendly restaurant is providing a comfortable environment and delicious menu for the entire family.” 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 e-mail to:

Weekend, Pages 34 on 01/03/2013

Print Headline: TRANSITIONS


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