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Nashville Rockin Grill, 10840 Maumelle Blvd., North Little Rock (next door to Morningside Bagels) has missed several target opening dates since February. But general manager Jimmy Pearce confirms that (finally) Monday is now the firm opening date for the bar, grill and music venue. Right now, tentative hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, until midnight Friday-Saturday, depending on the flow of business. The telephone number: (501) 812-0095.

Our friends at Sync report that in the wake of the closing of Natchez Restaurant in downtown Little Rock, pastry chef Zara Wilkerson Abbasi has landed on her feet. She has taken over the dessert menu (except for the creme brulee and chocolate lava cake, which are still made in-house) at Afterthought Bistro & Bar, 2701 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock. Recent offerings include a fig and almond custard tart, peanut butter pie (as previously featured at Natchez) and dark chocolate cake. And she'll continue to make the critically acclaimed sour cream chocolate cake at Heights Taco & Tamale and desserts for downtown bar 109 & Co.

Jerky's Spicy Chicken and More has closed its Arch Street location while work proceeds at 521 Center St., Little Rock (where its next-door neighbor is EJ's Eats & Drinks), toward an as yet unannounced opening date. A voicemail at the old phone number -- (501) 246-3096 -- which owner John Walker Jr. told us he plans to keep -- recommends keeping up via Jerky's Facebook page (which doesn't appear to have been updated since this time last year) or its new website,

And speaking of EJ's Eats & Drinks, 523 Center St., Little Rock, the place is temporarily closed on Saturdays, at least until the intense summer heat stops driving weekend customers off. The phone number is (501) 666-3700.

Meanwhile, up the alphabet a bit, Aug. 24 is now the official opening date of BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse's McCain Mall outlet (3941 McCain Blvd., North Little Rock), its second in central Arkansas. Hours will be 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday-Saturday. The telephone number is (501) 502-0300; the website, which now lists this as an active location, is

Elsewhere in North Little Rock, now that the city's aldermen have given their "blessing" to having food trucks operate on a semi-regular basis within the city limits, comes North Little Rock's first food-truck event: "Patio on Park Hill," sponsored by the Park Hill Business & Merchants Association (;, 5-8 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Lakehill Shopping Center, on John F. Kennedy Boulevard (housing Ira's Park Hill Grill and La Salsa). The association's site lists four participating vendors -- The Beast, Southern Gourmasian, Pie Hole and Waffle Wagon -- plus a craft beer tent with brews from Vino's, Diamond Bear and Lost 40 Brewing. Geek Eats Deli, billed as the future restaurant for peripatetic proprietor Jeremy Rhodes, who has been selling his popular hummus at farmers markets, will serve up samples of hummus and, we're told, test sandwiches. The association says it is looking to make this a monthly event. We'll keep you posted.

Although Mark Abernathy has said he's delaying the roll-out of his new menu at Loca Luna, 3519 Old Cantrell Road, Little Rock, a few items are sort of leaking out, including a new Angus Tomahawk Ribeye. "This nearly 3-pound bone-in steak can easily feed two people," according to a recent email blast to customers. They're charging $38.95 for the steak and two sides. Loca Luna's phone number is (501) 663-4666; the website is

Benton's first Zaxby's, 20680 I-30 West, is set to open Monday, giving away as part of the grand opening a "Fanatic Pack of 52 Free Dealz" (a free item at Zaxby's each week for a year) to the first 100 guests. Hours are 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily; the phone number is (501) 794-2220. It'll be the sixth area outlet for the Athens, Ga., headquartered chain/franchise operation, all of which ring Little Rock (the others are in Sherwood, Maumelle, Jacksonville, Bryant and Cabot) but none of which are yet within the city limits. Franchisee Fred Weir says in a news release that he's planning to open an additional four to six as-yet unspecified locations in the market within the next eight years.

Juice Bar Little Rock is set to open sometime in September in the Midtowne Shopping Center, 201 N. University Ave., Suite 210A (between the Children's Place and Soma Intimates), Little Rock. The menu, which you can find at, offers fresh juices, smoothies, salads and snacks. Tommy Keet, president of JTJ Juice Bars LLC, has the franchise from the Nashville, Tenn.-based operation (he's also part of the family with the central Arkansas Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe franchise). Hours will be 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday. No listed phone number yet.

Josiah Moody of Little Rock gypsy brewing outfit Moody Brews will sample his newest beers, 5-8 p.m. Friday at the Historic Arkansas Museum, 200 E. Third St., Little Rock, part of 2nd Friday Art night. Those latest creations include "Katchiri's Bier," a Belgian-style farmhouse ale aged in French Chardonnay barrels, and "Aria's Bier," a saison brewed with orange peel and conditioned with hibiscus flowers. Both have previously been featured on tap at Damgoode Pies' River Market location and Vino's. Moody worked with local artist Katherine Rutter, whose work will go on display Friday at the museum, on label art for the brews, which he hopes to bottle for distribution in the near future.

Senor Tequila owner Serginho Atilano is now homing in on late August for the opening of the Conway outlet, the mini-chain's eighth, at 1117 W. Oak St., Conway (former home of Michelangelo's and the short-lived Table Mesa/Painted Table). Calling the phone number listed on the Facebook page and website ( -- (501) 358-6382 still produces only a generic voicemail message. The website lists the expected operating hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.- 10.30 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

And speaking of Conway, the U.S. Pizza outlet at 710 Front St. downtown is donating a portion of its sales, 4-9 p.m. today to Conway Alliance for the Arts to benefit its ninth annual ArtsFest, a citywide celebration of the arts, Sept. 26-Oct. 3. Email or visit

And Pei Wei, the Scottsdale Ariz.-based "Asian-inspired" chain that is the younger sibling of P.F. Chang, opened its second Arkansas location Monday in Pinnacle Hills, 4895 W. Pauline Whitaker Blvd., Rogers. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The phone number is (479) 464-7900; the website is The other location is on the University Avenue side of Little Rock's Midtowne Shopping Center.

Emily Van Zandt contributed to this column.

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) 399-3667cq EH or (501) 378-3513cq EH, or send a note to Restaurants, Weekend Section, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, Ark. 72203. Send email to:

Weekend on 08/13/2015

Print Headline: TRANSITIONS

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