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TRANSITIONS

By Eric E. Harrison

This article was published March 21, 2013 at 3:28 a.m.

Arkansas’ first LongHorn Steakhouse in the Shackleford Crossing shopping center, 2628 S. Shackleford Road, Little Rock, is set to open Monday with an official ribbon-cutting Tuesday with city and restaurant officials. The 6,270-square-foot restaurant will seat more than 240. “LongHorn prides itself on providing guests with a cu tabove steakhouse experience through its food - most notably expertly grilled, boldly seasoned steaks - and friendly service, all in a setting that celebrates the rugged landscape of the American West,” according to a news release (check out the menu at longhornsteakhouse.com).Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 219-6809. The chain, which operates more than 400 restaurants in 37 states, is owned and operated by Darden Restaurants Inc., the folks who also bring you Red Lobster and Olive Garden.

And speaking of chain restaurants, the website (twinpeaksrestaurant.com) for Twin Peaks, a “breastaurant” chain in the Hooters mold, now lists an address for the west Little Rock outlet it plans to open, and yes, as predicted, it is under construction on the site of the former Cozymel’s, 10 Shackleford Drive, overlooking West Markham Street. A want-ad in a the Sunday paper a couple of weekends ago indicated hiring was under way.

The Downtown Little Rock Partnership will restart its Main Street Food Truck Fridays on April 5. Three or four food trucks - the lineup will change each week - will gather on the west side of Capitol Avenue and Main Street, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. through June 14. The partnership will hold its third Main Street Food Truck Festival on Oct. 5. Call (501) 375-0121 to keep up.

Still no word on the status of Mike’s Vietnamese and Chinese Cuisine, 5501 Asher Ave., Little Rock. The number on their sign, (501) 562-1515, no longer returns a “temporarily disconnected” recording, but nobody answers it, either; if you let it ring long enough, you get a “mailbox is full” recording.

You will recall a few weeks ago we reported that Capital Hotel pastry chef Tandra Watkins was on the list of semifinalists for a James Beard Award in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category. (The criteria: “A chef or baker who prepares desserts, pastries orbreads and who serves as a standard-bearer for excellence. Candidates must have been pastry chefs or bakers for at least the past five years.”) Alas, she didn’t make the shorter list of finalists, which includes two New York City bakers - Dominique Ansel of Dominique Ansel Bakery and Brooks Headley of Del Posto - plus Melissa Chou of Aziza in San Francisco; Ken Forkish of Ken’s Artisan Bakery in Portland, Ore.; and Hedy Goldsmith of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami. The foundation will name the winner in a May 6 ceremony and gala reception at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York.

Something called Mugs Cafe is apparently “opening soon,” according to the banner at 515 Main St. in North Little Rock’s Argenta district (it’s in the old Allied Printing building next door to Argenta Market). The website, mugscafe.org, previews a menu (“subject to change, and pricing is forthcoming”) that includes coffee and espresso; pastries, bagels and muffins; omelets, frittatas and breakfast wraps; sandwiches, salads and lunch wraps; and gelato, fruit smoothies and high-end bottled sodas. The site does not offer a telephone number, but there is an e-mail address: info@mugscafe.org.

And speaking of North Little Rock, the North Little Rock Visitors Bureau has issued its annual “North Little Rock Dining and Coupon Guide,” a “comprehensive” handbook to the city’s nearly 200 dining establishments in the city. It’s available at the North Little Rock Visitor Information Center in Burns Park, at City Hall and other locations around town. Visit NorthLittleRock.org or call (501) 758-1424.

There’s a dozen or so new “spring-loaded,” limited-time “Burger Fest” menu items arriving at your local Burger King, including, for the first time, a turkey burger (topped with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, red onions and mayonnaise on an artisan-style bun) and a Veggie Burger (Morning-Star Farms Garden Veggie Patty similarly topped - plus ketchup - on a sesame seed bun).

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:

eharrison@arkansasonline.com

Weekend, Pages 36 on 03/21/2013

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