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Thursday, August 21, 2014, 3:19 a.m.
Top Picks - Capture Arkansas

TRANSITIONS

By Eric E. Harrison

This article was published April 10, 2014 at 2:44 a.m.

Craig Roe, co-owner with wife Melissa of Benton-based food truck Baja Grill, says he has signed a lease and will definitely be moving his operation into the former Mamacita’s Mexican Bar & Grill space at 5923 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, with a tentative mid-April opening. His hours, also tentative, will be 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The establishment does not yet have a listed phone number. We’ll keep you posted.

Just down the street, the former Cafe 5501, 5501 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, also formerly RJ Tao Restaurant & Ultra Lounge, will revive sometime this summer as Oishi, a teppanyaki steak house (the name means roughly “It tastes good” in Japanese) with a limited sushi menu, according to materfamilias Lulu Chi. She’s got a July target date. We’ll keep you posted.

The phone number - (501) 244-9609 - still hasn’t been disconnected, but we are pretty much forced to conclude after a couple of weeks of showing no signs of life whatsoever that The Pizza Hole, 402 Louisiana St., Little Rock, has closed.

The Family, an Italian eatery, opened about three weeks ago at 1566 Arkansas 22 West in Dardanelle; the building previously housed a Pizza Hut, the Ol Wagon Wheel (which closed in August) and China Taste. Owner Sam Dika says he’s got a general Italian menu that includes lasagna, fettuccine Alfredo, spaghetti and meatballs and several seafood dishes, and in a couple of weeks he’s planning to add pizza. Hours are 7 a.m. (the place also serves a country breakfast) to 9 p.m. daily. The telephone number is (479) 477-3896.

Easter is April 20 and it’s not too early to start thinking about making reservations at any place you would normally be brunching. In the meanwhile, the Capital Hotel, 111 W. Markham St., Little Rock, is getting the “jump” on the competition with a 10:30 a.m. April 19 meet-and-greet with the Easter Bunny, who will hand out various prizes, including tickets for four for the Easter Bunny Lunch at Ashley’s. Menu offerings for the 11:30 a.m. meal will range from $8 grilled cheese and fries to $24 pepper steak filet mignon. Call (501) 370-7011 for reservations. The Easter Bunny will either be spending the night in the hotel or will return at 10:30 a.m. April 20, and the restaurant will be serving a three-course, $58 prix-fixe lunch instead of its usual Sunday brunch.

And speaking of Easter brunch, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. April 20, The Hive, the restaurant in the 21c Museum Hotel, 200 N.E. A St., Bentonville (thehivebentonville.com), is also offering a three-course, prix-fixe menu ($29, $15 for children), including the “25 Minute Benedict,” with the restaurant’s “25 Minute Egg” accompanied by house made tasso, fresh biscuits and Hollandaise. Make reservations by calling (479) 286-6575.

Diamond Bear Brewing Co. is in the process of completing its move from West Cross Street to 600 N. Broadway, North Little Rock, with a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony set for 3 p.m. April 21. President Russ Melton says the target opening date for the brewery’s new restaurant is May 22. We’ll keep you posted.

And there’s a new online tool for those seeking food-related jobs in Arkansas: ARFood-Jobs.com, which, says founder Christie Ison (also a cooking instructor and blogger at fancypantsfoodie.com), is the only place, “online or otherwise, where employers and qualified job seekers in Arkansas’ culinary industry can connect exclusively.” Register for free as a job candidate (browse employment opportunities by list or map and post resumes) or an employer (post jobs and search resumes for specific skills or certifications; fees start at $50, but you can get in on the ground floor free for the entire month of April with the coupon code APRILFOOLFREE). An on-site blog will also cover topics of importance to the food industry and its workers. The site, barely a week old, already has job postings for Pulaski Technical College, Local Lime, ZaZa Fine Salad + Wood Oven Pizza, Big Orange-Midtown, Big Orange-West and Boulevard Bread Co. in Little Rock and establishments in Hot Springs, Mountain Home, Caddo Valley, Springdale and Camden. The site has two affiliate partners: Pulaski Technical College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute and the Arkansas Hospitality Association.

Far be it from us to cause even unintentional confusion, but Margie Michell, owner-chef of Victorian Garden Bistro, 4801 North Hills Blvd., North Little Rock, reports some of her customers were confused by her message, and our reporting thereof last week, that after more than 21 years, she was looking to semi-retire and for somebody to take over the place. No, she says, the place hasn’t closed; “we are still preparing all our great signature foods and will continue to send out our weekly special emails. The only change at the present time is we will be closed on Mondays during the month of April.” She, and we, “will keep you informed of any actual changes.” Email Michell at margie@victoriangarden.biz or call (501) 690-3902.

And also from the nostra maxima culpa department this week, a couple of sharp-eyed, well-informed readers took us to task for our misplacing the kouign amann (pronounced “coin-a-mon”) pastry in the Middle East in our report on the opening of Mylo Coffee Co., 2715 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock. The pastry comes, in fact, from Brittany. (And, says one such correspondent, “Not French but Breton!” Thanks for keeping us on our toes.

Boulevard Bread Co. is expanding its original Heights location, 1920 N. Grant St., Little Rock, into the next-door former New Traditions, a women’s clothing boutique that closed around Valentine’s Day. In addition to the space and seating capacity, the restaurant will also expand its operating hours (possibly open as late as 9 or 10 p.m. weekdays and 11 p.m. or midnight on weekends) and menu, and will offer a full bar “with a heavy focus on classic cocktails and fresh ingredients,” says Blair Graves, who gives her title as buyer and cheesemonger. The place should remain open while work on the new space is in progress, though, Graves says, “We will have to close the store when they’re tearing down the wall between the spaces, and of course our other three locations will remain open.” The target to have everything in place is sometime in August. The restaurant number is (501) 663-5951. We’ll keep you posted.

And speaking of remodeling, there’s one in progress at the Red Lobster outlet at 3707 McCain Blvd., North Little Rock, one of the busiest restaurants north of the river. Management says the place will stay open through the process, which they expect will take another three to four weeks - the inside is close to being finished; the outside is in progress. The restaurant phone number is (501) 753-4000.

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, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock,Ark. 72203. Send email to: eharrison@arkansasonline.com

Weekend, Pages 40 on 04/10/2014

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