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story.lead_photo.caption Saffron, an Indian restaurant, is coming soon to the former J. Gumbo space in the Centre at Ten shopping center on Cantrell Road. - Photo by Eric E. Harrison

Kontiki African Restaurant closed a few weeks ago at 13420 Arkansas 111, Alexander, with an announcement that they were moving. Now we know where: in the Village Shopping Center, 3901 S. University Ave. (Asher and University avenues), Little Rock, in the former space of former Mexican restaurant Playa Azul 2. Owner Christian Domingo expects to open it by the end of the month, following repair work on damaged water and plumbing lines and pending inspections and permits.

He estimates that his new location at about five times the size of the one he left; with a new paint job in progress, it'll be much brighter and more appealing (his previous building, which had previously housed the Alexander Country Cafe, was, in the words of a Democrat-Gazette review of Kontiki, "old, weathered and careworn"). It'll have practically unlimited parking (the big shopping center also houses Mr. Chen's Authentic Chinese Cooking and the former Casa Bonita/Casa Viva) and much easier for his customer base to access. "People were saying we were too far out," he told a reporter last week. "We were in a hideout. But here, it's easier for the customers."

Domingo says the larger kitchen will allow him to add items to the small menu of authentic food from Sierra Leone, where he grew up. He's also planning to expand his hours to include lunch and dinner. And on Aug. 3 he filed an application with the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division for a beer-and-wine permit.


Tomas Bohm, who operates The Pantry in west Little Rock and Pantry Crest in Hillcrest, and who bought the former Hillcrest Artisan Meats last year and turned it into District Fare, has now sold the Hillcrest deli, 2807 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, to Daniel Bryant. Bryant has already brought back former H.A.M. co-owner Brandon Brown as an employee. They'll keep the District Fare name, Brown says, but the menu will see some changes, including the return of some H.A.M. items, including fresh meats and specialty grocery items; H.A.M.'s hangar steak, for example, is already back in the meat case. The current 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday operating hours may extend in either or both directions. Brown spent several months out of the restaurant business, but had been recently working at Hillcrest Thai restaurant kBird. District Fare's phone number: (501) 671-6328.

Oceans at Arthur's has opened in the Subaru half of what the former Riverside Acura and Subaru dealership, 16100 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock. For the time being, hours are 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4:30-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Also for the time being, the Oceans' Sunday brunch will continue to be served at its older sibling, Arthur's Prime Steakhouse, still operating in the Village at Rahling Road, 27 Rahling Circle, Little Rock; general manager Manjeev De Mel says plans are to move that into the former Acura building by the end of the month or the beginning of September. The phone number remains (501) 821-1838.

Saffron Indian Cuisine is going into former J. Gumbo space in the Centre at Ten shopping center, 12911 Cantrell Road, Little Rock. We don't yet have many details, but the Facebook page ( explains, "We are group of experts and connoisseur who came together by sheer coincidence to bring our passion to life. Saffron's secret spices and carefully selected spread of north and south Indian cuisine will appeal your palette as well as olfactory senses." All calls to the phone number listed therein, (501) 313-5335, went to voicemail.

Expect the new dining room at Sky Modern Japanese Restaurant, Pleasant Ridge Town Center, 11525 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, built on what had previously been a patio, to open Monday. The "Lounge Room" will seat for 50-60 and they'll also be able to close it off for private parties. The phone number is (501) 224-4300.

Monday was the final day of operation for Sashimi Japanese Steakhouse, 1900 Club Manor Drive, Maumelle. Owner Holly Kattaviravong posted her appreciation for her friends and customers on Facebook ( "We will definitely miss each and every one of you. And hope one day we will be able to rebuild again."

We had reported a couple of weeks ago that a restaurant or pub was on the drawing board as part of a $200,000 redevelopment of two historic buildings, 3011-3015 W. Markham St., in Little Rock's Stifft Station. Now we've learned that the tenant will be Stone's Throw Brewing, which operates a brewery and taproom at 402 E. Ninth St. near Little Rock's MacArthur Park. Stone's Throw's Ian Beard announced at Monday's Capitol View/Stifft Station Neighborhood Association meeting that the brewery has signed a lease on the 3015 W. Markham property, opening in October "at the absolute earliest" but probably not before the end of the year, citing renovation work to the building and the permitting process. The location will serve beer, cider and wine but won't serve prepared foods. Stone's Throw operated a "pop-up" taproom across the street in a vacant former martial arts studio during PopUp in the Rock's most recent event in late June-early July along West Markham near the intersection with Kavanaugh Boulevard, which closed one lane in each direction on Markham, a busy east-west artery, as businesses occupied vacant storefronts to show the neighborhood's potential.

The Arby's at 9624 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, appears to have closed temporarily for renovation work. Calls to the listed phone number, (501) 227-4618, produced only a busy signal.

The original target to open the new Chili's Grill & Bar, 12505 W. Markham St., Little Rock, moving west from 10700 N. Rodney Parham Road, was October. Now we learn it may be open as early as the first week of September. The strip-center spot near the confluence of West Markham Street and Chenal Parkway, used to house a freestanding Luby's Cafeteria, which was razed to make room. We're awaiting a response from Chili's corporate office on an actual target date and other details.

Live Life Chill, going into the former Revolution restaurant, 300 President Clinton Ave., in Little Rock's River Market District, adjoining the Rev Room music venue, will hold its grand opening at 11 a.m. Sept. 27, according to the Facebook events page, Meanwhile, Phil Brandon of Rock Town Distillery explains that he doesn't actually have a piece of the establishment -- that the words "Rock Town Distillery" and artwork on the recently painted sign visible from the intersection of Cumberland Street/La Harpe Boulevard/President Clinton Avenue/East Markham Street headed toward Cantrell Road is a commissioned advertisement for his business, serving, he says, pretty much the same function as a neon window sign.

And speaking of Rock Town Distillery, they're holding a rum dinner, 6 p.m. Aug. 29 at La Terraza Rum & Lounge, 3000 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock. The distillery's bar manager, Rob Roy Armstrong III, will concoct three cocktails using Rock Town Arkansas Barrel Aged Rum, to be paired with "Chef Carlos' exquisite cuisine." Tickets are $45. Visit the Facebook event page:

In & Out Pizzaria Coffee Shop and More, in the food court of Park Plaza, 6000 W. Markham St., has closed and is no longer listed on the mall's online list of eateries (

The Dandy Line Kitchen, which has been an online food delivery service "of freshly prepared, healthy, delicious, and affordable meals" run by local nonprofit Hope Rises (a recovery program for incarcerated women), is establishing a brick-and-mortar presence inside the new innov • eat Cafe at the University of Arkansas Bowen School of Law, 1201 McMath Ave., next to MacArthur Park, Little Rock. Lindsey Gant, Hope Rises' kitchen coordinator who also goes by the title "Freshmaker," says they're going through a soft opening this week, and expect to serve the same menu that they've been delivering in the cafe on the same days they've been delivering -- Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In between, "we'll be having other lunches available, packaged items and grab-and-go snacks," which could include "healthier items" such as homemade hummus, protein packs, breakfast cookies, muffins and quiches. And, since it's a cafe inside a law school, they'll be serving Westrock coffee. Hours are still to be announced. The phone number, at least for the time being: (501) 519-9674. Visit or dandy line kitchen.

From Shelli Poole's My Saline blog (, this update on Yum Yum Hibachi, going into the former Paula Lynn's Sandwich and Sweet Shop, 302 S. Reynolds Road, Bryant: Garner Mitchell, one of three partners, says it will serve "a hibachi express with the grill being in the kitchen. Grilled chicken, steak, shrimp and vegetables with fried rice. We will more than likely have appetizers such as fried spring rolls, dumplings, edamame and seaweed salad." He's expecting hours to be 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Target to get open, after extensive remodeling, is a couple of months down the line.

Mitchell is also one of the partners of Poke Cafe, 20770 Interstate 30 North, Benton, which opened Aug. 3. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Saturday. The phone number is (501) 794-6646.

And speaking of Bryant, Don Pepe's Gourmet Burritos & Tacos is coming to North Reynolds Road in Bryant, apparently somewhere around the 1500 block. (The site plan filed by engineering firm Hope Consulting with the City of Bryant lists it as "south side of Big Red Headquarters" and its Facebook page describes it as "between Big Red and Bryant High School," if that helps you place it.) It's a branch of a restaurant of the same name at 2225 Prince St., Conway. An employee there confirmed they're hoping to get it open by the end of the year. Get a glimpse of the menu at

And speaking of tacos, Tacos 4 Life on Tuesday opened its latest location, 4501 Phoenix Ave., Fort Smith. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The phone number is (479) 226-8152. And the Texarkana Gazette reports that the burgeoning Conway-based chain has announced a planned franchise for Mall Drive off Cowhorn Creek in Texarkana, expected to open toward the end of the year or the beginning of next.

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:

Photo by Eric E. Harrison
Hillcrest deli District Fare will keep its name after having changed hands, and former Hillcrest Artisan Meats co-owner Brandon Brown is back as an employee of the new owner. Some H.A.M. items, including the hangar steak (bottom right) have already returned to the meat case.
Photo by Jennifer Christman
The Arby’s on Rodney Parham Road appears to have closed temporarily for apparent renovation work.
Photo by Jennifer Christman
The Chili’s Grill & Bar on West Markham Street could open as early as the first week of September.

Weekend on 08/16/2018

Print Headline: Restaurant transitions: Kontiki moving to LR; District Fare sold; Oceans at Arthur's opens


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  • LR1955
    August 16, 2018 at 8:51 p.m.

    I sure hope Kontiki African Restaurant can make it in the new location and doesn’t fall victim to the local crime in the area.