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By Eric E. Harrison

This article was published January 10, 2013 at 2:37 a.m.

— Big Orange co-owner Scott McGehee finally signed the lease, putting the long-awaited Midtown Little Rock second location of the popular haute-burger restaurant on a map. Though at one time there was talk of it showing up in the Park Avenue development, it will open this summer, as expected, in Midtowne Little Rock, West Markham Street and University Avenue, in the space that has previously housed Relax The Back near The Container Store and Cafe Laredo. McGehee says he’s taking some design cues from successful aspects of his new Local Lime, just about a block away from the original Big Orange in the Promenade at Chenal, including a bigger bar emphasis and a larger patio area that can be fully enclosed and heated in the winter. Construction is slated to begin in mid-February; the “moving target” to open is around July 4. (And,given the raves tempered with a wish that there was a location closer than the west end of civilization, can a second Local Lime be far behind? We’ll keep you posted.)

Chi’s Chinese Express, 17200 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, which has been expanding into the next-door former Coffee Beanery space, is due to open Monday with a somewhat reduced version of the new Sichuan-centered menu that will also go into effect Monday at the “headquarters” Chi Dim Sum & Bistro, West Markham Street and Shackleford Road. That new menu will include a range of authentic new Sichuan seafood, lamb, chicken and vegetarian dishes. Hours at both restaurants will be 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily; the phonenumber on Chenal remains (501) 821-8000 and the original location’s number is (501) 225-8878.

Chi’s Chinese Cuisine at 5110 W Markham St., Little Rock, is no longer part of the minichain (materfamilias Lulu Chi sold it off a couple of years ago to her original chef ), but the Chi empire will soon have a new addition - in the space formerly occupied by Union Bistro space, 3421 Old Cantrell Road, which we only recently learned had closed and the phone disconnected. It, too, will have a reduced version of the new Sichuan menu. We’ll keep you posted.

Murry’s Dinner Playhouse, 6323 Colonel Glenn Road, Little Rock, opens the new year with a new chef: Larry Shields, formerly of Maddie’s Place. He is replacing Pat and Denzel Roland, who recently retired after being in charge of the kitchen for nearly three decades. A spokesman for the dinner theater says customers can look for more buffet items prepared from scratch. The phone number: (501) 562-3131.

And the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, 1 Rockefeller Drive, Morrilton, will offer a series of “Made From Scratch” workshops, featuring handson culinary classes taught by prominent Arkansas chefs,starting with Jason Knapp of Aramark at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and the 2012 Arkansas Diamond Chef winner whipping up “Everything Breakfast,” 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Saturday. Institute Chef Robert Hall, who cooked for the 2008 Summer Olympics, will take on “Seafood Simplified,” 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 26. The workshops will involve demonstrations, discussion and first-hand experiences, working in small groups. (Want to take home your creations? Bring your own containers.) Space is limited; advance registration is required. Cost is $80 per participant per class. Learn more or register at

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 36 on 01/10/2013

Print Headline: TRANSITIONS


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