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By Eric E. Harrison

This article was published February 6, 2014 at 3:12 a.m.


Michael Juiliano, aka Hot Dog Mike, has gone out of business.

Michael Juiliano, aka Hot Dog Mike, has shut his downtown storefront, 402 E. Third St., Little Rock, and apparently his entire business, posting Monday morning “Closed for good” on his Facebook page (; “CLOSED for good (not a joke or publicity stunt)” on his website,; and, on Twitter, “Closed for good. Not a joke or publicity stunt. I appreciate those that have supported me but Hot Dog Mike is another failed business.” The phone number, (501) 773-0209, returned only a voice message: “The person you are trying to reach is not accepting calls at this time.” We’ll let you know if anything else turns up.

A soft opening, in place of a grand opening, is supposed to continue until Feb. 21 at Rocket Twenty-One, awaiting finishing touches to its new space, a building extension on the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel, 2 Riverfront Drive (Maple Street and Washington Avenue) on the North Little Rock riverfront. Still no phone number yet. And still no word from businessman/restaurateur Frank Fletcher on what he’s planning for the restaurant’s former space at 2601 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, but whatever it is it probably won’t be opening as early as Feb. 15, as the sign on the door once indicated. We will certainly keep you posted.

A call to (501) 661-9292 earned us a voice mail that renovations at the original Heights location of ZaZa Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co., 5600 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, are still on target, with a planned reopening Friday. We reported last month that co-owner Scott McGehee had promised “an 11-day, Restaurant Impossible-style full renovation” that involves “updating branding, color scheme, lighting, flooring, kitchen, etc.,” and “focusing even more on locally grown and high quality new options for the salad line.” The menu will have three new pizzas and three new salads and new desserts.

Wes Ellis, executive chef/ owner of the Packet House Grill, 1406 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, reports the restaurant is looking at introducing a new menu in the next couple of weeks. He’ll still focus on upscale comfort food, but among other changes, he’ll add lamb chops, something customers have been requesting. And he’s looking at possibly reopening for lunch sometime down the line. Hours remain 5-9:30 p.m.Tuesday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 372-1578.

According to the voice mail message we got by calling (501) 623-8258, Phil’s Family Restaurant, which has been inside the Howard Johnson Express Inn, 400 W. Grand Ave., Hot Springs, is a little behind its Monday target to open at the former Due Figlie Ristorante Italiano, 2900 Central Ave., across from Oaklawn Park, in the building that also once housed Facci’s. We don’t know yet if the restaurant is moving or it’s just opening a second location.

Conway’s Log Cabin Democrat ( ) reports that Tim Ester is retiring after 26 years as general manager at Stoby’s, saying he wants to go out when the place, 805 Donaghey Ave., Conway, is in its prime. He started there as a breakfast cook in 1988 and took over as general manager in 1995. Extend your best wishes online at; the restaurant phone number is (501) 327-5447.

Panera Bread outlets in central and Northwest Arkansas will hold their “Snack Packs for Kids” fundraiser Feb. 14, donating a portion of that day’s proceeds from certain menu items (cinnamon crunch bagel, Sierra Turkey Sandwich, any smoothie) to nonprofit food distribution groups. In Northwest Arkansas, the donee is Samaritan Community Center; in Fort Smith, Community Clearinghouse Food for Kids; in Conway and Little Rock, the Arkansas Rice Depot; and in North Little Rock, Central Baptist Food Pantry.

The Arkansas Extended Learning Center has released a lineup of February cooking classes, starting 6-8 p.m. today with “French Bistro” with chef James Sparks (“Herb Roasted Chicken, Pommes Frites, French Onion Soup, Creme Brulee!”) at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, 20900 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock. Subsequent classes (space is limited and some may already have filled up) are “Chop Like A Pro: Knife Skills Workshop” with Danny Owen, 3-5 p.m. Sunday; “Bakeshop II: Pies and Tarts” with Cache pastry chef Heidi Eppling, 2-5 p.m. Feb. 16; “New Orleans Feast!” with chef Robin Sullivan, 6-8 p.m. Feb. 17; “Mexican Street Party!” with Sparks, 6-8 p.m. Feb. 20; “Indian Cooking” with Owen, 3-5 p.m. Feb. 23; “Sushi Workshop” with Joshua Simmons, 6-8 p.m. Feb. 24; and “Cooking Basics for Newbies” with Sullivan, 6-8 p.m. Feb. 25. Cost per class is$54, $94 a “pair,” except for the sushi workshop, which will be $69 and $129. Call (501) 666-0759 or email your registration information (name, address, phone, class) to . Get on the mailing list via

You probably won’t recognize the name Jon Taffer unless you watch Spike TV’s Bar Rescue, in which Taffer, a former bar and nightclub owner who owns an industry consulting firm, travels around the country and shows tough love to struggling bars in order to return them to cash-cow status.He’s also the author of the “ultimate guide to running a bar/ restaurant/nightclub,” according to a news release, and “is now proud to announce TAFFER TV, a specially designed video program for bars, restaurants and nightclubs that includes Taffer’s specific patented management approaches, ranging from Reaction Management, Guest Experiences, Creative Marketing, Beverage Program and Success Dynamics.” All this expertise is available for $29.95 a month. Need more information? Visit

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 email to:

Weekend, Pages 38 on 02/06/2014

Print Headline: TRANSITIONS


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