A new Mexican restaurant is planned for a vacant space in Little Rock's Hillcrest neighborhood that once housed the Afterthought Bistro & Bar.
El Mezcal is scheduled to open in late February or early March, said Vicente Hernandez, who is a partner in the business. The restaurant, whose opening was first reported in Rock City Eats, will occupy the former Afterthought space at 2721 Kavanaugh Blvd.
The future restaurant’s owner, Ramiro Valadez, 42, owns several other businesses in Little Rock, including the Cantina Cinco de Mayo restaurants, as well as a grocery store. Valadez, who has lived in Little Rock for 20 years, said El Mezcal will feature high-quality service.
Hernandez said the Hillcrest location has real potential. But first it will take time to get the restaurant ready to serve customers, he said.
The space El Mezcal now occupies has undergone a series of changes since the Afterthought closed in 2016.
Stephano Mylonas, who owns the next-door Mylo Coffee Co., initially planned to renovate it and reopen it, but those plans fell through.
Little Rock residents expressed interest in the leasing and new development in the old bistro.
Fiona Simmons said she hoped the new restaurant would promote business in the Hillcrest area.
Simmons said people often come to the neighborhood to have dinner, get a drink and walk among its various shops. New businesses, like El Mezcal, may further encourage residents and visitors to spend more time in the neighborhood, she said.
“I’m happy to see a Mexican restaurant open, rather than it just sitting there,” she said.Gallery: FOOD & FUN: The Afterthought through the years