Restaurateur Jerry Barakat says he is finalizing a lease agreement to move his contiguous Little Rock restaurants, Arthur's Prime Steakhouse and its seafood-based sibling, Oceans at Arthur's, from the Village at Rahling Road, 27 Rahling Circle, into the vacant Riverside Acura and Subaru dealership, about two miles south, at 16100 Chenal Parkway.
Barakat's current lease runs out July 31, and he expects to be open in his new locations on or about Aug. 1. Arthur's will go into the former Acura building, Ocean's into the former Subaru building. Barakat plans to create covered and/or partially enclosed patio seating in the space between them.
"My business has been growing like crazy, and I have no room to expand, especially at Ocean's," he explains, while parking is also limited. The move will provide the restaurants' approximately 300 parking spaces in addition to about 2,600 more square feet for each restaurant than the space they currently occupy.
The property is directly across from the Kroger Marketplace, which will mean it will have considerably more visibility than does his current location, on Rahling Road about a block off Chenal Parkway, which is not visible from the main thoroughfare. Barakat said he has been feuding with the city over Chenal Parkway signs and lighting since he first opened a restaurant there, an Argentine-style churrascaria steakhouse called Gaucho's Grill, in 2001.
He opened a pair of restaurants, Jasmine's and Sesame's, in 2003 in the downstairs space that had been an upscale supermarket, opened Arthur's there in 2007 and the companion seafood restaurant in 2012. He subsequently opened and closed several restaurants in the Gaucho's space, including Blue Agave, Amalfi and Tico's Cantina Tex-Mex. Another non-Barakat Mexican restaurant, Cantina Cinco de Mayo, now operates there. He moved Gaucho's to a Shackleford Drive building that had started out life as an outlet of the Tony Roma's chain, and subsequently operated a couple of other restaurants in the space, now the home of Tokyo House.
A Palestinian from Jerusalem, Barakat and his ex-wife Terry, a native of Barcelona, Spain, moved to Little Rock from Chicago in 1981 and opened The Terrace in the Breckenridge Village Shopping Center on North Rodney Parham Road. It was ostensibly a Greek restaurant because Barakat feared anti-Iran sentiment would prejudice locals against Middle Eastern cuisine.
He subsequently moved the Terrace three times -- to the Trellis Square shopping center on Rodney Parham on the other side of Interstate 430; to Markham and Shackleford (the space currently occupied by Jason's Deli); and to the bank building where Rodney Parham Road meets Hinson Road, where one of his daughters and her husband operate it as The Terrace Mediterranean Kitchen. Barakat also owns and operates Kemuri, an Asian-fusion restaurant on Kavanaugh Boulevard in Little Rock's Hillcrest.
You may recall our various reporting over the past three years on the possible resurrection of The Shack, initially planned for a papered-over storefront on East Third Street that had briefly been a hot-dog outlet. Then we learned, after a long stretch of no news, that co-owner Tim Chappell (also owner of nearby Gusano's Chicago-Style Pizzeria) and his partner, Joe Finch, who has, over the years, operated about a dozen barbecue restaurants around the state, and who had possession of The Shack brand name, were instead planning to open it as Hickory Joe's, one of Finch's restaurant brands, using the original Shack sauce recipe and serving Shack sandwiches.
Now we learn that Chappell is in fact planning to reopen The Shack after all, and in the current Gusano's space, 313 President Clinton Ave, Little Rock. Target deadline is April 1; "We're waiting on approval for our smoker placement, kind of our last big hangup," he explains. The concept involves what Chappell is hoping will be the full Shack barbecue experience in a fast-casual atmosphere, with an ordering process similar to that of the nearby Flying Fish -- order at the counter, get a buzzing coaster, sit where you want -- but with drink service at your table.
And, "in addition to bringing back legendary Arkansas barbecue," he says, he's planning to turn the establishment into a blues destination, with local and regional blues musicians performing on a newly reconstructed stage. Noting the proximity to the blues meccas of Memphis and Clarksdale, Miss., he's looking to create a Beale Street vibe, initially, perhaps, just on Fridays and Saturdays. He's not ready to announce the lineup.
However, he is keeping a pizza presence -- the kitchen will continue to turn out pies for pickup and third-party delivery (via Bite Squad and also the pending Uber Eats, which, he tells us, will launch March 14). And the Gusano's menu will be available for customers who really want a pizza, or in case, heaven forbid, some night they run out of barbecue. Starting out, the place will only open at night on weekdays -- 5-10 or 11 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, but opening all day Saturday and Sunday. They'll keep the same phone number -- (501) 374-1441.
Meanwhile, that papered-over, long-idle storefront at 402 E. Third St. finally will come to life as the promised Hickory Joe's, along a similar timeline, opening sometime in March or April. Chappell says it will open in phases, starting out as a to-go only establishment with a carry-out window and curbside pickup. "It's a real small space," he explains. Phase 2, which will follow a few months down the road, will involve applying for and obtaining a beer license; there's space for a patio on the west side that they can turn into a beer garden, Chappell explains. Hickory Joe's, at least at first, will serve primarily sub-style barbecue sandwiches, he adds; the menu is still a work in progress. They'll both serve hickory-smoked meats -- possibly smoked in the same spot -- but possibly with different sauces. Hours are still a work in progress as well.
Back to pizza, Raduno Brick Oven & Barroom, 1318 Main St., Little Rock, celebrating its third anniversary this month, is running a special "Buy A Slice, Get A Slice" lunch promotion, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, through Feb. 28. Officials there also promise a new brunch menu is pending. Call (501) 374-7476; the website is radunolr.com.
Central Arkansas Library System officials confirm that Jimmy's Serious Sandwiches, 5116 W. Markham St., Little Rock, will take over the cafe space in the Cox Creative Center, 120 River Market Ave. on the Main Library campus as a second Jimmy's location. There's no official target opening date, but right now they're looking at sometime in April.
One Eleven at the Capital, in the Capital Hotel, 111 W. Markham St., Little Rock, hosts a Ridge Vineyards Wine Tasting, 5-7 p.m. today, focusing on a California winemaker that relies "on nature and tradition rather than technology." Tickets, $60, include tax and gratuities. Visit tinyurl.com/ridgewinetickets.
Benton's new Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers is set to open Feb. 22 in the new Shoppes of Benton, on the north side of Interstate 30 (the official street address is 20240 I-30 North, Benton). Hours are 10:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 794-6668; visit freddysusa.com/store/189839.
Trejo's on the Lake, the third in a growing mini-chain of Spa City Mexican restaurants, opened last weekend in Suite B, 4904 Central Ave., Hot Springs, formerly The Boathouse and a Spa City location of Doe's Eat Place. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 463-4640. The other two Elias Trejo-owned restaurants are at 3040 Albert Pike and 3801 Central Ave.
And Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe's outlet at 8200 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, is turning over 25 percent of the proceeds, 5-9 p.m. Tuesday to Access, a nonprofit that offers full-time education, therapy, training and activities for individuals with special needs, age 6 weeks through adulthood. The minichain is in the midst of a "Year of Giving." Visit facebook.com/events/2027610703921336.
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:
Gusano’s owner Tim Chappell, outside his River Market restaurant in 2008, plans to resurrect The Shack in the pizzeria in coming months.
Weekend on 02/15/2018
Print Headline: 2 Barakat restaurants to relocate