Starving Artist Cafe, 411 Main St., North Little Rock, closed after dinner Saturday night. Chef/co-owner Jason Morrell posted this on the restaurant's Facebook page May 30: "To all of our loyal fans and friends: Thanks for a great 9-year run. ... It's been a labor of love, an artistic project offering a healthy alternative to the mainstream. We hope you enjoyed experiencing it as much as I did making it."
And on Tuesday, he added this explanation: "Since we've had so many people ask, we closed because we simply didn't have enough business. This is a very fickle business with a very slim profit margin, and just a few slow months can be irreversible. We tried to stick it out, but with business steadily declining over the past year, it all came to a head last week and we had to make the very difficult decision to close. ...
"For some people businesses are just a way to make money, but this was more than just a money-maker for us; our children grew up there with us daily, and we were truly invested in making Argenta and Central Arkansas a better place. We hope that we were able to do that for the 9 years we were open, 3 in Little Rock, 6 in Argenta. Thanks again!"
The restaurant opened on Little Rock's West Seventh Street, just east of Broadway, in December 2005 and moved across the Arkansas River to Argenta in the summer of 2008. We reported in October that Jason, the chef, and Paula Martin Morrell, who ran the front of the house as well as a performance series/radio show called Tales From the South, were divorcing. Tales From the South will survive; it's moving across the street to the Laman Library's Argenta branch, and Whole Hog Cafe will cater.
Memphis-based fried-chicken mini-chain Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken announced last week it will open a second Little Rock location, in Buffalo Grill's former west Little Rock space, in the Bowman Curve Shopping Center, 400 N. Bowman Road, which closed last summer. According to a post on the Facebook page, the apparent success of Gus's first Arkansas location, which opened almost exactly a year ago in the River Market, spurred the decision to add a second. We'll keep you posted.
All American Wings, 4506 Lynch Drive, North Little Rock, is adding a Sunday soul food menu that will change weekly. This Sunday, for example, they'll be serving fried chicken, catfish, smothered pork chops, Cajun pork neck bones and baked chicken with cornbread dressing. Hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, noon-8 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (501) 615-8123.
Target opening date is now early July for Little Rock's second Chipotle outlet, 100 S. University Ave., Little Rock, says James Sparks, who'll manage the corporate-owned restaurant. (The first location, in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center, 11525 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, where we reached Sparks, is a franchise operation.) No answer yet at the University Avenue restaurant's listed phone number, (501) 404-2557.
And more than 200 wines, food from local restaurants and caterers, and music by Lagniappe featuring Genine Perez will be on tap, so to speak, for the Celebrate the Grape Wine and Jazz Festival, 6-9 p.m. Friday in Argenta Plaza, 520 Main St., North Little Rock. Sponsor is Arkansas Times. Tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the door; visit tinyurl.com/kbmrr34.
Catching up on some Hot Springs restaurant news:
• What used to be Lucky's, 711 Central Ave., nestled between Belle Arti and The Porterhouse, is now the Copper Penny Pub, holding its grand opening this week and offering a range of Irish food, music "and lots and lots of beer," according to its website, copperpennypub.com. Hours are currently 11 a.m.- midnight Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday, noon-midnight Sunday. The phone number is (501) 622-2570.
• Somehow the exact date passed us by, but Phil's Family Restaurant, which had been located inside the Howard Johnson Express Inn, 400 W. Grand Ave., Hot Springs, opened in late March in the former Due Figlie Ristorante Italiano, 2900 Central Ave., across from Oaklawn Park, in the building that also once housed Facci's. Hours are 6:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily. The phone number is (501) 623-8258.
• And one of our sharp-eyed observers has observed that Crazy Samurai, 5431 Central Ave., Hot Springs, which will feature hibachi-teppanyaki tables and a sushi bar, is apparently near opening, but nobody yet answers at the listed telephone number, (501) 525-0488.
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) 378-351, or send a note to Restaurants, Weekend Section, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, Ark. 72203. Send email to:
Weekend on 06/05/2014
Print Headline: TRANSITIONS