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Monday, December 22, 2014, 8:54 a.m.
Top Picks - Capture Arkansas

TRANSITIONS

By Eric E. Harrison

This article was published January 9, 2014 at 2:27 a.m.

Last week came word that restaurateur/entrepreneur Frank Fletcher has moved his Rocket Twenty-One restaurant, lock, stock and Blue Dog art, from 2601 Kavanaugh Blvd. in Little Rock’s Hillcrest neighborhood into a new extension onto the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel, 2 Riverfront Drive (Maple Street and Washington Avenue) on the North Little Rock riverfront. The “new” restaurant is scheduled to have a soft opening Friday and Saturday, and no, it is not replacing either the Benihana or the Riverfront Steakhouse restaurants that operate in that hotel.

Here’s what Fletcher posted last week on the restaurant Facebook page to “Friends and Loyal Customers of Rocket Twenty-One”:

“I wanted to inform you personally of the moves we are making with our restaurant. We have built a brand new building in front of Benihana and this will be the new home for Rocket 21 about Jan. 10. This new location will have all the famous pieces of the Blue Dog Art and of course will have the same famous Rocket 21 menu with the same chefs preparing the great food.”

The new restaurant will seat approximately 70, as opposed to the previous 50-55. Fletcher notes the proximity of Dickey-Stephens Park and Verizon Arena,” and the contributions of “many local customers from North Little Rock, Jacksonville, Cabot, etc.” Hours will be 5-10 p.m. weekdays and later on weekends. We’re still waiting for the new phone number.

So what’s going to happen to that Ice House Revival space on Kavanaugh? Fletcher has been out of pocket, but in his Facebook posting he says, “We have a new concept and exciting new business we can’t tell you about yet. There is nothing like it in the community and we will gladly announce our new plans as soon as we can get our new name registered and all the details finalized. Look for details about Feb. 1.” We will certainly keep you posted.

In other breaking Hillcrest restaurant news, Tomas Bohm, proprietor of The Pantry, 11401 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, posted Monday on the restaurant’s Facebook page confirmation that he’s opening a second location, in the former House, 922 N. Palm St., Little Rock: “It is true indeed. We are very excited to let you know that we are adding another baby to our family. … We are proud owners and we will open as The Pantry Crest, same concept as our older baby.” After rebuilding the 100-year-old house “from the ground up,” he anticipates a target opening date of April/May.

Cache Restaurant, in the brand new Arcade Building, 425 President Clinton Ave. in Little Rock’s River Market District, is up and running, having opened ahead of its target date, which was today. Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 850-0265.

And speaking of the River Market, the transition took less time than Jay Baxter had predicted, and his Jay’s Pizza has already reopened in the former Le Pops Gourmet Ice Lollies kiosk in the River Market’s Ottenheimer Market Hall, 400 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock. As of the weekend just past, everything had been transferred across the hall except the soft-drink machine, which was scheduled to move Tuesday, and the telephone - (501) 374-5297 - and Internet connections (Facebook page: facebook.com/JaysPizzaLR).

And speaking of pizza, Domino’s is opening its first central Arkansas “Pizza Theater”-concept store in the Hickory Square Shopping Center, 17310 Interstate 30, Benton. It offers in-store dining in approximately 1,600 square feet, with a lobby with built-in tablets for placing orders, free Wi-Fi, open-area viewing of the food preparation process and the ability to track carry-out orders on a flat-screen TV. A ribbon-cutting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday. Franchisee Brent Medders, who started out as a Domino’s delivery driver and now operates 13 stores, is hiring for 10 positions. Hours are 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday; the phone number is (501) 408-4688.

It turns out that Green Leaf Grill, on the ground floor of the Blue Cross Blue Shield building at 601 S. Gaines St., Little Rock, is the latest project for award-winning chef Jason Knapp. He describes it as “not like anything you’ll find around Little Rock,” with multiple stations - including a make-your-own-salad station; “create” and entree stations where you can pair the meat of the day (Tuesday it was chile verde and turkey or beef meatballs) in a stir fry with fresh seasonal vegetables; a grill; a deli, offering fresh-roasted meats sliced for sandwiches; and a stone-fired pizza oven. For breakfast, in addition to the traditional meats and eggs, he has omelets, fruit and yogurt bars and made-in-house muffins. Hours are 7 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays. The phone number is (501) 378-2521.

There’s been a pair of recent North Little Rock closures:

Rocky’s Pub, in the Indian Hills Shopping Center, 6929 John F. Kennedy Blvd., is closed, apparently vacant, and the telephone number, (501) 833-1077, has been disconnected. And no, we don’t know why.

Cornerstone Pub & Grill, 314Main St., in the Argenta District, is listed as “permanently closed” on its Facebook page, where this was posted Jan. 2: “FARE THEE WELL. After 10 years, we, the management … have decided to close business operations in pursuit of alternative ventures. We would like to thank the Argenta community, the City of North Little Rock and all of our patrons over the years for their loyalty and support. … (Please private message us if you have any questions about leasing the property.)”

A game of chicken? A Church’s Chicken outlet is nearing completion in the former BackYard Burger kiosk on west Little Rock’s North Shackleford Road, within a stone’s throw of Slim Chickens, which recently opened an outlet in the former Arby’s at 301 N. Shackleford.The irony: Slim Chickens opened its first Little Rock outlet in May at in the former BackYard Burgers at 4500 W. Markham St., across from … a combined KFC/Taco Bell.

And speaking of faster food, a Which Wich Superior Sandwiches outlet pending in the Chenal Creek Shopping Center, 12800 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, has a target opening date of Feb. 25, according to owner/franchisee Ty Mayhan. Mayhan opened the first central Arkansas outlet last summer in North Little Rock’s Lakewood neighborhood, 2607A McCain Blvd., and the new outlet will have the same hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

Desi Den Indian Restaurant opened around the turn of the year in what may have become a revolving-door space, 612 Office Park Drive, Bryant, formerly a Layla’s outlet and a short-lived Greek restaurant before that. The restaurant’s Facebook page, facebook.com/pages/DESI-DEN/440952209319344,explains that the kitchen produces “a variety of flavours and styles from around the Indian subcontinent,” and that the “extensive dinner buffet” features “gravy dishes, Indian breads, savoury seasonal desserts and, of course, chicken tandoori kebabs.” Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily; the phone number is (501) 847-1818.

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: eharrison@arkansasonline.com

Weekend, Pages 36 on 01/09/2014

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