Keet family-run JTJ Restaurants, which operates central Arkansas Taziki's outlets as well as west Little Rock high-end Petit & Keet and Paninis and Company in Midtown, is taking over the former Canvas restaurant space inside the Arkansas Arts Center in MacArthur Park, East Ninth and Commerce streets, Little Rock. The restaurant, maintaining what has become a tradition of names reflecting things artistic (before it was Canvas it was Best Impressions), will now be called Watercolor in the Park; projected opening date is mid-November. "The new menu will feature chef-driven quality at reasonable prices," says paterfamilias Jim Keet, and "everything will be freshly prepared and of the highest quality"; catering functions for the arts center and the Terry House will be handled by "our catering departments at Petit & Keet, Taziki's and Paninis and Company." Initial hours will be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; the Sunday brunch will come from the folks at Petit & Keet. Still not certain: what will happen to the restaurant when, sometime in the next 10 months to a year, a major reconstruction project closes parts of the Arts Center.
After almost five years in the making, "We're right on the brink," Tim Chappell says of the opening of The Shack in, well, not quite Gusano's Chicago-Style Pizzeria, 313 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock. He plans to start serving pork sandwiches with the original sauce next week, possibly as early as Monday, out of a sort of kitchenette that he has established between Gusano's and Ernie Biggs, what he describes as "sort of a pop-up Shack barbecue," with the hood venting the smoker out into River Market. It's not quite, or at least not yet, what he originally planned, which was to convert the pizzeria into a barbecue joint; depending on how business goes, he'll be looking at expanding the operation into the restaurant proper, with plans to turn it into a major night-time blues venue, while maintaining the pizza menu. Gusano's phone number is (501) 374-1441. Oh, and Chappell says he has settled a rent dispute with his landlord, Three Thirteen Clinton LLC, on which Arkansas Business reported in its Oct. 15 Whispers column, and all is now well. Meanwhile, Chappell's other barbecue project, Hickory Joe's, a smaller, mostly grab-and-go operation in the long-long-long-idle 402 E. Third St. storefront that was originally announced as the site for the resurrected Shack, will continue to lag slightly behind. He's using the same smokers to produce the smoked meat but in different preparations.
We're told the target opening date is now Oct. 27 for Donuts & Deli, 308 Main St., Little Rock, next to Bruno's Little Italy. Their website, donutslr.com, still under construction, lists a range of gourmet doughnuts (including one called "Nuts for Nutella") and other baked goods; breakfast items (including a Firefighter Skillet, spicy jalapenos, smoked sausage, smoked hash browns, egg and "award-winning cheese dip"; homemade biscuits and pepper gravy; and an "Omelette Your Way"), plus deli sandwiches and other lunch items -- the Facebook page, facebook.com/donutslr, shows photos of house-smoked turkey and sausage and bacon-wrapped meatloaf. Tentative hours are 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday; "Sun & Mon: varies." We're still only getting a voicemail message at the listed phone number, (501) 626-8083.
We're told that what's going on at the Burger King outlet at 11410 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, is major remodeling and that it's targeted to reopen in about 30 days. Calls to the phone number, (501) 224-9980, produce only a rapid busy signal.
Meanwhile, down the street, at 9624 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, the Arby's outlet, which had also gone through major remodeling, has reopened. Hours are 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 227-4618.
And La Hacienda, 3024 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, also has reopened after a brief shutdown to fix "some kinks that we think is time to iron out" after their nearly yearlong reconstruction in 2016. The phone number is (501) 661-0600.
And just up that street a bit, the Starbucks, 2815 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, on the former site of Shogun Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar, opened Oct. 10 on schedule. We don't have hours yet -- Starbucks' store locator website only reveals that it's open until 10 -- or a phone number.
Darla Huie, owner of Dizzy's Bistro, 200 River Market Ave., Little Rock, last week posted on her Facebook page that the restaurant is going "green" for its new delivery service through Waitr: "Here's what we did: Paper straws, compostable carry-out containers, paper bags, bio-bags, 1,100-day bio-foam cups. Here's what you can do: If you don't need napkins and silverware, type it in to the comments section and recycle all we send out properly." Dizzy's hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 375-3500.
Owner Anthony Valinoti says it's nothing short of a miracle, reopening his DeLuca's Pizzeria on Friday at its new location at 831 Central Ave., Hot Springs, less than 10 days after closing the Park Avenue location where it had drawn thousands of happy customers for the past five years.
Valinoti tells the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record that the pizzeria will keep about the same hours for the time being -- 4-9 p.m. Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, noon-8 p.m. Sunday -- but eventually, "We'll probably keep longer hours, probably be open at night," he said. Valinoti had previously said that, possibly beginning in January or February -- coinciding with the start of racing season at Oaklawn, when many Spa City establishments blossom -- he may start staying open until midnight on weekends with a special late-night menu. Also possible, once he gets settled, he may open for lunch Thursday through Monday.
"We were thinking of putting a bar in here initially" (and he has applied for a restaurant mixed-drink minimum permit) "but we just wanted to see what it looked like at the onset and was it actually a good idea to do that. We'll definitely be adding some new menu items and some new exciting things that we've thought up that we couldn't do before. I'm just so excited. This is just a dream come true."
The new location is, surprise, actually a bit smaller than the Park Avenue space, but Valinoti says it won't make a difference: "I always say this, 'Is it the proper size space for us?' No. 'Is it the right location for us?' The answer is yes. That's what it comes down to." The phone number is (501) 609-9002.
Jacksonville, Fla.-based Firehouse Subs is adding to its menu, until the end of the year and at participating restaurants (not all its restaurants are participating, apparently) the Firehouse Pub Steak Sub, topped with a beer cheese sauce (blend of sharp cheddar and American cheeses flavored with white Belgian-style wheat ale) and crispy fried onions. They'll pair it with a bag of Rold Gold pretzels. There are two Firehouse Subs locations each in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Jonesboro, Fort Smith and Fayetteville, and single locations in Bentonville, Bryant, Conway, Searcy, Russellville, Rogers, Hot Springs, Van Buren and Jacksonville. Visit firehousesubs.com.
The recently opened IHOP, 302 S. Rockwood Drive, Cabot, is apparently one of the chain's first with a coffee bar and, we're told, an in-house bakery. Hours are 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 6 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 941-3300.
Food trucks and drink vendors, including Lost 40 Brewing, Count Porkula, Adobo to Go, the Arkansas Heart Hospital's "Food From the Heart" food truck and Adams Mobile BBQ, will be part of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's "Symphony Local" festival, starting two hours before each of their "Elgar's Enigma" concerts, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10 and 3 p.m. Nov. 11 at Robinson Center Performance Hall, 426 W. Markham St. at Broadway, Little Rock. The festival will also celebrate arts and crafts vendors and local community organizations, including Arkansas Foodbank, which will collect food donations (take 10 or more nonperishable food items and get a voucher good for one pair of tickets to any 2018-19 ASO concert). Call (501) 666-1761 or visit arkansassymphony.org/symphony-local.
Sign up now for the 16th annual Tom Daniel Holiday Chili Cook-off, 4:30 p.m. Nov. 19 in the Exchange Street Plaza, 128 Exchange St., Hot Springs. The cutoff is 35 cooks; call Suzanne Tucker at (501) 624-3370 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a registration form. See the complete rules, regulations, details and prizes at HotSpringsDowntown.com. Admission to the public is $5; attendees can sample the more than 30 traditional and nontraditional chili entries and vote for their favorite entry and the "People's Choice" winner. A panel of judges, including Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Rex Nelson, will determine first- and second-place winners (trophy and cash prize) in both categories. The annual Downtown Association of Hot Springs event also includes the turning on of the downtown holiday lights at dusk; former KATV anchor Gina Kurre will be the emcee; they'll honor retiring KATV meteorologist Ned Perme, who has served as emcee for 15 years, as the first Honorary Chair. Proceeds fund the maintenance of the downtown lights and support the Downtown Association of Hot Springs.
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:
Weekend on 10/18/2018
Print Headline: RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: New Arts Center eatery set; The Shack to debut in downtown LR