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Wednesday, September 17, 2014, 8:56 p.m.
Top Picks - Capture Arkansas

TRANSITIONS

By Eric E. Harrison

This article was published July 24, 2014 at 2:26 a.m.

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Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/RICK MCFARLAND --04/05/13-- Justin Patterson hands out finished orders from the Southern Gourmasian truck to patrons visiting the Main Street Food Truck Fridays in Little Rock Friday, the first day of the event which runs through June 14.

In case you missed the news last week, chef-owner Justin Patterson announced his popular food truck Southern Gourmasian will be joining the brick-and-mortar movement by opening sometime in midfall a nonmobile location in the Sterling Annex, 219 W. Capitol Ave., in downtown Little Rock. Patterson told our Business section that the 3,000-square-foot space will allow him to expand his customer base, as well as resolve customer concerns about where to find his Asian-fusion cuisine on a day-to-day basis. Presumably Patterson will keep his current phone number, (501) 954-0888; the website is thesoutherngourmasian.com and the Facebook page, where you can track down the truck until the new place has opened, is facebook.com/thesoutherngourmasian.

(Just how popular is the Southern Gourmasian truck, by the way? Our Business section reports it was the top-selling individual mobile unit in Little Rock last year, with sales of $108,542.)

The restaurant's neighbors on the same block will include Donnie Ferneau Jr.'s incoming The Still (construction delays have pushed back the opening at least until spring); the return of All-American Wings, which owner Rodney Cummings, who also operates at 4605 Lynch Drive, North Little Rock, says he plans to return into the storefront it once occupied at 215 W. Capitol Ave., some time in late August or early September; and Hanaroo, a Japanese restaurant-slash-sushi bar, which has been open since September 2005.

Also downtown, Business section reporter Jack Weatherly also reported last week that Chris Tanner, owner of Cheers in the Heights, is planning to open a new establishment, Samantha's Tap Room and Wood Grill, in the 4,700 square feet on the ground floor of the Mann on Main building, 322 Main St., where it will become the next-door neighbor of Bruno's Little Italy. Tanner has named the restaurant, with a target opening by the end of the year, for his wife; the "cool casual" menu, he told Weatherly, will resemble the one that has been a success for years at Cheers, but "sleeker and quicker" -- for example, smaller burgers that will grill in half the time -- plus a lineup of 32 beers and 20 wines entirely on tap. Yes, there will be a patio, and Tanner is speculating on the possibility of valet parking.

And still speaking of downtown establishments, W.T. Bubba's, in the Museum Center, 500 President Clinton Ave, Little Rock, has closed -- temporarily, insists co-owner Jeff Cook, who says the closure is the result of a partnership dispute. He hopes to have the establishment back up and running in about a month. Meanwhile, the phone number, (501) 244-2528, is still active but only connects with voicemail. We'll keep you posted.

And while we're in the River Market District, we note the approach of Cravens Popcorn in the Ottenheimer Market Hall, 400 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock, in a space most recently occupied by a short-lived Tropical Smoothie outlet. The sign includes a phone number -- (501) 817-6366 -- at which we got only a message that the holder has not yet set up a voicemail inbox.

And sticking with downtown for one more item, EJ's Eats and Drinks, 523 Center St., is now serving Sunday brunch, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. "We have some classic brunch items, including eggs Benedict, biscuits and gravy, and homemade corned beef hash and eggs, as well as several kinds of homemade quiche," along with favorite lunch items, says Jim Miners, one of the owners, "and are planning to keep adding and trying new things." And yes, since they have a liquor license, they'll be serving Bloody Marys and mimosas. The phone number is (501) 666-3700. Miners also notes that the opening of the reintroduction of EJ's to Hillcrest, whence the restaurant originated, in a new strip center at 3604 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, at North Lookout is on hold while management and the city are working out issues involving "parking and traffic worries."

We now have a target opening date for Oishi Hibachi & Thai Cuisine, 5501 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, the former location of Cafe 5501 and before that RJ Tao -- Aug. 15, according to the Cafe 5501 Facebook page. We're told that the restaurant will have five hibachi grills plus table seating in the main dining room; the sit-down menu will include a selection of Thai dishes. Manager and Lulu Chi protege Robert Tju also runs the Sushi Cafe, up the street at 5823 Kavanaugh. Apparently they have kept the same phone number: (501) 603-0080.

We were hoping we'd hear back from Melissa Welbourne, owner of the Gilbert Cafe, 22 N. Frost St., Gilbert, who had posted July 8 on the cafe's Facebook page that she might have to close the legendary eatery if her attempts to find a buyer fell through. We had reported a couple of weeks ago that she had found a potential buyer, but no news since -- except that a call to the cafe phone number, (870) 439-2020, produced a voicemail message noting that as of this week, the cafe would be expanding its Friday-Sunday hours to a Wednesday-Sunday schedule: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. That's a pretty good indication that the place isn't closing after all.

Cregeen's Irish Pub, 301 Main St., North Little Rock, will host "Whiskey & Wings," a tasting of whiskeys from Canada, Scotland, Ireland and the United States, along with a meal of "various wings & more," 6:30 p.m. Aug. 5. Tickets (which do not include gratuity) are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Call (501) 376-7468 (PINT).

And the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau is sponsoring its fifth annual Little Rock Restaurant Month, "Savor the City," in August. Participating restaurants will showcase lunch and dinner menus and offer a variety of discounts and specials, Aug. 1-31. The list and details will be available as of Aug. 1 at DineLR.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, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, Ark. 72203. Send email to:

eharrison@arkansasonline.com

Weekend on 07/24/2014

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