We’re now looking at a Sept. 15-30 window for the long-awaited reopening of Bruno’s Little Italy on the ground floor of the three-story Mann Annex Building, 310 Main St., downtown Little Rock. The timeline, says Bruno’s president Gio Bruno, involves a series of dominoes falling in the permitting process: He can’t start hiring until he has a city business license, which waits on his Alcohol Beverage Control license, which in turn depends on his Health Department permit, which he hopes to obtain this week, and having a working phone on the premises - the number, by the way, will be (501) 372-7866. The kitchen installation is nearing completion.And yes, there will be a pizza window where customers can watch the pizza maker tossing pies, an attraction for young and old at the Roosevelt Road (1949-1978) and Old Forge Drive (1978-1987) locations, but not for the 21 years the restaurant was open on Bowman Road.
The restaurant will also once again be fully under control of the family that founded it for the first time since the end of 1988, when entrepreneur Scott Wallace and his family bought it and reopened it on Bowman Road after a 10-month closure. (Wallace frequently said it was because he missed the toasted ravioli.)
“It’s a family affair this time, so there’s a lot of opinions,” says Vince Bruno, vice president and executive chef, who’ll be running the kitchen.
The menu will closely resemble the one the restaurant was using when it closed in October 2011, including the toasted ravioli; the core cuisine will consist of the dishes Bruno paterfamilias, Vincent “Jimmy” Bruno, created in the late 1940s based on Neapolitan family recipes more than a century old. Gio Bruno says he has been looking at offering some gluten-free options - for example, a possible French-bread pizza made with a product from Dempsey Bakery.
The Bruno family presence will now extend unto the third generation: Gio’s son, Dominic, 28, who is going by the title “head chef,” who worked in the Bruno’s kitchen for a while at 18 and refined his talents in the trendy restaurants Park Kitchen, Clyde Commons and Aquariva in Portland, Ore., and Bisetti’s in Fort Collins, Colo. He and new Bruno’s sous-chef Josh Kerns, another Bisetti’s alumnus, will have the freedom to produce a range of off-menu seasonal specials using local ingredients. You may see other Bruno scions in the ranks of the wait staff.
Bruno’s will initially open only for dinner, 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday (with plans also to open from 4 to 5 for to go orders only), with an eventual expansion to weekday lunch, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.. Much of the wait, bus and kitchen staff from the Bowman Road (and before) years are likely to return to fill the 25-30 available positions, but the Brunos expect that they’ll have to hire a new crew for lunch. Two-thirds of the 99 seats will be indoors (four booths will have fabric canopies as a tribute to the Roosevelt Road cloth ceiling), the other third outdoors on a new patio.
The Hooters restaurant at 4143 N. Shiloh Drive, Fayetteville, closed Aug. 27. The phone number, (479) 575-9464, had not yet been disconnected when we checked over the weekend, and nobody was answering it during what would normally have been peak periods. We have photographic evidence of workers on Aug. 28 taking down the exterior signs.
There may or may not be a direct connection, but the closure came not quite a month after a 34-year-old patron was twice run over after leaving the restaurant Aug. 1 in a supposedly inebriated condition and died five days later in a Springdale hospital. The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal (nwabusinessjournal.com) reports that a Fayetteville police investigation indicated that the man was not just drunk, but “very drunk.”
State law provides for an Alcoholic Beverage Control Board review of an establishment’s alcoholic beverage permit “if there’s reason to believe the license holder failed to operate the business in a ‘manner which is in the public interest, and does not endanger the public health, welfare, or safety,’” the journal notes.
Hooters’ remaining Arkansas locations are in North Little Rock (4110 Landers Road) and Fort Smith (6323 Rogers Ave.). A Hooters on Rodney Parham Road in west Little Rock closed in 1993; poor sales was cited as the “official” cause, but that closure, too, came after an alleged alcoholic beverage infraction - earlier that year, the ABC had suspended its license for two months for serving beer to a couple of under-age patrons, who subsequently got into a serious auto wreck and showed high blood-alcohol levels.
Food trucks Clyde & Kiddo’s (barbecue combos, salads, burgers, deli sandwiches), Kona Ice (shaved-ice snow cones), Philly’s Steak& Cheese (steak sandwiches with choice of five cheeses) and kBird (Asian fusion) will be the vendors, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Friday at the northwest corner of Capitol Avenue and Main Street, Little Rock, for the return of Food Truck Fridays, through Nov. 15, sponsored by the Downtown Little Rock Partnership and framing the Oct. 5 Main Street Food Truck Festival. Call (501) 375-0121 or visit downtownlr.com.
Target opening date for the new On the Border, 6000 Warden Road, Sherwood, is now Sept. 30, not Monday as we were told by a corporate spokesman recently. Monday is when the restaurant starts training; the restaurant chain held a job fair earlier this week in North Little Rock in the way of filling approximately 130 jobs. The website, ontheborder.companycareersite.com, also lists what, at least over the weekend, were still-unfilled positions in Sherwood, plus two openings at the chain’s outlet on Chenal Parkway in west Little Rock. And we have - and a live warm human being answered - the listed telephone number: (501) 476-7180.
The Quiznos at 12800 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, shows all the visible hallmarks of having closed. The phone number, (501) 537-3454, has not yet been disconnected but we couldn’t get anybody to answer it. It’s the latest in a series of Quiznos closures, following the recent shuttering of a store in Jacksonville and the kiosk in Little Rock’s Park Plaza.
And one of our sharp-eyed observers reports the closure of Taste of India, in the Lakewood Village Shopping Center, 2629 Lakewood Village Drive, North Little Rock. The phone - (501) 812-4665 - had not yet been disconnected as of our deadline, although we could not get anybody to answer it. There appears to be a note on the door and the signs have been removed from the front of the building.
U.S. Pizza’s Pulaski Heights outlet, 5524 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, is closed for remodeling (and has been surrounded by chain-link fence bearing a sign that says so). “It’s a big project,” says Drew Weber, U.S. Pizza’s chief operating officer, adding that he expects it to take 160 to 190 days to complete. We’ll keep you posted.
Lou Kapcsandy of Kapcsandy Family Winery near the Napa Valley town of Yountville, Calif., will be on hand for a wine dinner, 6:30 p.m. Friday in Ashley’s at the Capital Hotel, 111 W. Markham St., Little Rock. The cost of the dinner is $150 “inclusive.” For more information or to make reservations, call (501) 370-7015, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit tinyurl.com/kbsg9co.
One of our sharp-eyed observers spotted work in progress - including a new paint job - on the long-vacant former North Little Rock restaurant, known variously as Roy Fisher’s Steak House and less formally as Cuz Fisher’s, 1919 E. Broadway. But longtime fans hoping against hope that some Fisher scion will reopen the place as it was are probably doomed for disappointment: It’s reportedly going to be a furniture store, not a restaurant.
Hibachi Sushi Buffet, in the Temperance Hill shopping center, 4334 Central Ave., Hot Springs, is now open. The place offers six hibachi tables or you can indulge in the buffet - $7.99 for lunch, $9.99 for dinner. And they serve beer, wine and sake. Hours are 10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. daily; the phone number is (501) 463-9988.
And speaking of Hot Springs, another of our sharp eyed correspondents reports the closing of Jason’s Restaurant, 148 Amity Road. Sure enough, a call to the listed phone number, (501) 525-0919 , returns an offer from AT&T to find a similar business, indicating it has been disconnected.
Sept. 16 is the postmark deadline to enter the 2013 Arkansas Cornbread Festival, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 2 at Bernice Garden, 1401 Main St., Little Rock. (Well, they’ll take late applications through Oct. 1 if spaces are still available, but there’s a $25 late fee.) Entry fees are $75 professional category, $25 amateurs. You can find the application online at arkansascornbreadfestival.com (under the heading “Compete,” where you’ll also find information on the categories and cash prizes, the value of which has doubled this year) or email the competitor coordinator, Caroline Fox, at email@example.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 e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekend, Pages 40 on 09/05/2013
Print Headline: TRANSITIONS