Southern Gourmasian, 219 W. Capitol Ave., Little Rock, has closed. The place was dark and unoccupied Monday during business hours -- 11 a.m.-3 p.m. -- and while the phone still had not been disconnected as of Monday, the number -- (501) 313-5645 -- only returned a boilerplate voicemail message during business hours as well. Owner-chef Justin Patterson, who converted a wildly successful food truck business into a downtown storefront in 2015, confirmed that Saturday was their last day of operation, and that they've also shut down the food truck as well. He says they'd been planning to leave the storefront for some time, in part because of problems with the very old building. "We finally got some legal issues worked out for plans to leave the space," he explains, and that a planned new location fell through. He says he and business partner C.C. Key are looking to come back with a possible new concept: "We're working on some stuff right now."
The target opening date for the once-and-future Casey's Bar-B-Q in the former Arkansas Burger Co. building, 7410 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, has moved back and is now looking like March 1, says "managing member" David Henry, son of Casey's co-founder Dorine Henry. Originally Henry and his family -- his two children, Mary, 25, and Johnny Henry, 22, are the owners, and his sister, Diane Henry Williamson, "will be helping out on catering and training" -- were hoping to be open by Valentine's Day. The menu will include "most everything that was on the menu before" when the restaurant was packing them in on on Little Rock's Reservoir Road -- it closed in 2005 -- plus smoked baked potatoes. Hours will be 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. We have a phone number -- (501) 615-8522 -- but Henry says the voicemail hasn't yet been hooked up.
Co-owner Jose Jesus Valadez says he has a tentative Feb. 25 target date to open the Cantina Cinco de Mayo in the former Jerky's Spicy Chicken and More space, 521 Center St., Little Rock. It'll have the same menu as the other restaurants in the growing mini-chain, which has two Little rock outlets -- on Rahling Circle and on Stagecoach Road -- and one each in Bryant and Benton. The place will have a full bar (a mixed-drink license has been applied for and is pending). Hours, still tentative depending on how busy they are at night, will be 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. The phone number is (501) 400-8194.
The Fold: Botanas and Bar, 3501 Old Cantrell Road, in Little Rock's Riverdale neighborhood, closed for several days for renovations, posted Feb. 4 on its Facebook page, facebook.com/TheFoldBar, that "Countdown to reopening is down to 4 days!" -- which, by our fuzzy math, would mean it's reopening today. The post revealed that, among the upgrades to the kitchen and bar areas is a new six-tap draft system. The phone number is (501) 916-9706.
Conway-based minichain Tacos 4 Life is expanding again, with plans to open a North Little Rock location near McCain Mall early this fall. Co-owner Austin Samuelson said in a statement that the latest restaurant will locate on land leased from Dillard's Dollars Inc. at the mall's Warden Road entrance (Warden is the west-side service road for U.S. 67/167), and that it will "mark a new standard" with a new design prototype and the "latest technology." The deal opens the door, according to Joshua Brown of Haag Brown Commercial, for more opportunities to pair future Tacos 4 Life locations with Dillard's stores in "key markets." The socially conscious minichain started in 2014 in Conway, where it has two locations, and has been expanding across Arkansas and Texas, with restaurants planned for North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
And speaking of pending chain places, the restaurant with the double drive-through in progress at 3118 N. Arkansas 391, North Little Rock, a block or so off of the intersection with U.S. 70 and near the Galloway exit off Interstate 40, is apparently going to be a Burger King. It doesn't yet show up on the chain's locator map, nor do we have a target opening date, but the evidence, while circumstantial, is still pretty solid: A sign variance for that location that came up before the North Little Rock Board of Adjustment that listed it as a future Burger King. Also, Business section scribe David Smith reported in October that TQ Real Estate LLC, a Tennessee firm, had bought the property for $900,000; that TQ Real Estate is affiliated with Cambridge Franchise Holdings of Bartlett, Tenn.; and that Cambridge Franchise Holdings, which operates more than 124 restaurants, is one of the largest and fastest growing Burger King franchisees in the country, according to its website.
And still speaking of pending chain places, Pizza Ranch, an Old West-theme pizzeria chain with locations in 13 states, has set up a Facebook page, tinyurl.com/PizzaRanchConway, notifying readers in Conway and beyond that "The Posse Is on the Way." That means it plans to open its first Arkansas outlet at 950 Covington Way, sometime, Arkansas Online reports, in June or July. (The street, currently under development, is off Dave Ward Drive west of South Harkrider Street.) The Orange City, Iowa-based chain, with 200 locations in the Midwest and Great Plains, serves pizzas it calls (and trademarks) Prairie, Texan Taco, Bronco, Trailblazer, Roundup and Stampede (their version of the sweep-the-floor, topped with Canadian bacon, pepperoni, sausage, beef, mushrooms, green and black olives, red onions and green peppers). The website is pizzaranch.com.
Owner-chef Matt Fuller, formerly of Central Park Fusion, says he's making progress, though slower than he initially expected, on his new project, 501 Prime, 215 E. Grand Ave., Hot Springs. "It's still moving forward," he explains, and the place, which he's putting into the shell of a two-story former hardware store just east of Malvern Avenue, has begun to take shape, but any kind of opening is still "a little ways out yet." By the end of this week, he says, all of the interior framing should be done, as well as 90 percent of the rough-in, plumbing and electrical; also this week, or early next, contractors will pour the slab for the patio structure on the side of the building and one of the the extensions. He's not prepared to even consider a target opening date, but he is pretty sure it will now come after the end of the Oaklawn racing season. Last fall, when he was hoping to get open sometime in the first part of 2018, he said philosophically, "It gets done when it gets done. Things just take time." The plans include close to 10,000 square feet, including patio seating, probably 8,000 of which will be customer-accessible, on two floors. The establishment will feature "what I believe to be Arkansas' first true oyster bar"; a downstairs wine bar with its own separate menu and an a la carte dining room, primarily steak and seafood; and an upstairs whiskey bar.
The Atlanta-based Huddle House chain has signed a franchise agreement with Amyn and Ashraf Dayani to open a Huddle House in Conway at a site to be determined. The chain has four Arkansas locations -- 7335 Sheridan Road, White Hall; 378 U.S. 65 South, Clinton; 910 U.S. 425, Monticello; and, just opened, 4563 W. Keiser Ave., Osceola, -- among its nearly 350 restaurants (with, we're told, another 51 in development), located primarily in the South and southeast United States, and known for serving "Any Meal, Any Time." The news of the new franchise comes on the heels of word that Sentinel Capital Partners recently sold the chain to a "family office investor" by the name of Elysium Management. A spokesman for the chain says that shouldn't affect the Conway operation in any way.
The dining landscape has expanded a bit in Stuttgart, which now has a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen at 2104 S. Main St. -- hours are 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily; the phone number is (870) 672-4762 -- and is anticipating the opening of a Burger King on East 22nd Street. (Stuttgart also has a new hotel, a Tru by Hilton, 204 W. 22nd St., which, we're told, opened in November. However, while it offers a build-your-own breakfast, it does not have an in-house restaurant.)
And with Valentine's Day (or, for those not currently coupled, National Torture Single People Day) approaches on Wednesday, and we solicited local restaurants to send us their special deals, menu, food specials, drink specials, etc. The only one we got was the one we printed last week -- B-Side Bistro in the Market Place Shopping Center, 11121 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, usually only open 8 a.m.-2 p.m., is serving a special "Romantic Supper" menu, from 6-10 p.m. By reservation only. Call (501) 716-2700. However, we did get this list of chain-place "love offerings" (tinyurl.com/lovefreebies):
• Cold Stone Creamery, Valentine's-Day theme treats available through February include the heart-shaped Fudge Truffle Decadence ice cream cake.
• Dairy Queen, Valentine's Day specialty desserts include Dipped Strawberry with Ghirardelli Blizzard and the heart-shaped Cupid Cake, which serves two.
• Dunkin' Donuts -- heart-shaped doughnuts (availability may vary by location) include Pretty in Pink (strawberry frosted with sprinkles) and Donut Be Jelly.
• Hooter's, buy 10 wings, get 10 free (dine-in only, Feb. 14), and you can take in a picture of your ex to shred (visit shredyourex.hooters.com/#section-intro).
• Krispy Kreme Valentine's Day specialty doughnuts, available through Feb. 14, include Chocolate Iced With Sprinkles, Cookies & Kreme Heart with Oreo, Pink Heart with Strawberry Flavored Icing and Sprinkle Heart.
• Panera Bread offers heart-shaped cookies (prices and limited-time availability vary by location).
• Ruby Tuesday celebrates with a "Love at First Bite" menu (for example, order a Hickory Bourbon entree and get the Garden Bar for $3.99).
• Waffle House continues a Valentine's Day tradition with a romantic, candle-lit dinner with tablecloths and other surprises at locations in Fayetteville, Hot Springs, Malvern, East Siloam Springs and Springdale. Details, including addresses and phone numbers where you can make reservations (encouraged): visit wafflehouse.com/valentine.
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:
Tacos 4 Life owner Austin Samuelson shows off the company’s southwest Little Rock location. The minichain is planning a North Little Rock outlet near McCain Mall.
Weekend on 02/08/2018
Print Headline: Chef shuts downtown eatery and food truck