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story.lead_photo.caption Hurts Donuts, which opened a Fayetteville location in 2017, is planning one for Little Rock.

Sept. 17 is the target opening date for the new Chili's Grill & Bar, 12505 W. Markham St., Little Rock, which has moved west from The Village at Pleasant Valley, 10700 N. Rodney Parham Road. The new spot near the confluence of West Markham Street and Chenal Parkway used to be a freestanding Luby's Cafeteria, which was razed to make room. Hours at the new location: 10:45 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 10:45 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 404-9700.

Meanwhile, the Flake & Kelley real estate folks confirm that Grub's Bar & Grille, with locations in Fayetteville, Rogers and Fort Smith, will be going into the space Chili's is exiting. There's no target date yet to open -- chain marketing people say they're waiting for Chili's to vacate the space before they make any specific plans. The menus (not that dissimilar to those at Chili's) will be the same as the ones in Northwest Arkansas; check them out at

Chef Coby Smith announced Aug. 28 that he was leaving the eponymous Coby's cafe-cafeteria at Arkansas Heart Hospital, 1701 S. Shackleford Road, Little Rock, reportedly posting on Facebook and Instagram that "I'm no longer @ the Heart (hospital). It is something that was built together. It was always a Labor of love for me. Making people happy." No word yet on whether the hospital will change the name of the cafe, but we're told it will continue to operate the very popular Monday-Wednesday-Friday ramen bar that Smith originated. Ramen is also the main offering of the hospital's Food From the Heart food truck, which continues to range the state.

Kontiki African Restaurant opened on schedule 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. The restaurant, which moved from 13420 Arkansas 111, Alexander, serves authentic dishes from Sierra Leone. Approval is still pending from the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division on an application owner Christian Domingo filed Aug. 3 for a beer-and-wine permit. Hours are 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Sunday. The phone number, (501) 615-8504.

Sauce(d) Bar and Oven, 11121 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, starts 10 a.m.-4 p.m. brunch service on Sunday. According to the Facebook post, "Chef Amanda Leigh Ivy has put together a rustic brunch menu, with both breakfast and small bite dishes, with a Southern twist," including "Duck 'n Pancakes, featuring Maple Leaf Farms crispy fried duck wings, creamy breakfast risotto with cremini mushrooms and a crispy fried egg, and a twist on our epic Charcuterie Board, the Brunch Board." The bar will remain open "until the last football game ends." The phone number is (501) 353-1534.

The Springfield, Mo.-based Hurts Donut Co., which specializes in oversized doughnuts, is planning to open a Little Rock outlet at a location to be announced, apparently via its Facebook page ( The Facebook page also teases doughnut milkshakes with a variety of more than 70 flavors: "Pick any donut in the case and we will make it into a milkshake for you!" We don't have an opening date or hours, but apparently, as with other operations in the chain, including the one at 1641 W. 15th St., Fayetteville, it'll be open 24/7.

Canvas, the restaurant inside the Arkansas Arts Center, in MacArthur Park, East Ninth and Commerce streets, Little Rock, is temporarily closed -- "not open for walk-in lunch or brunch service," says an Arts Center spokesman, but still accommodating special events and catered meetings in the restaurant space -- while the Arts Center powers that be are "exploring options" in the wake of the departure of owner-chef Brian Kearns. Kearns, you will recall, bought Simply the Best catering and the restaurant operation, then called Best Impressions, in 2016 from retiring caterers Rob and Martha Best. Whatever happens with the restaurant will likely be temporary -- it's expected to close sometime in the next 11 months at the start of a major Arts Center reconstruction project.

When KFC/Long John Silver's at 613 E. Broadway, just off the Broadway exit off Interstate 30, North Little Rock, closed a couple of years ago, there was some speculation that it would become another outlet of the burgeoning Sharks mini-chain. Instead, it became a franchise of Sam's Southern Eatery, and in October it changed its name, but not much else, to Shrimpy. Now, as of about 10 days ago, it has become -- a Sharks. Hours are 10 a.m.-10 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m-9 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is a holdover: (501) 414-0123.

A check over the weekend on the Arby's, 9624 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, shows orange cones and netting still blocking driveway entrances and exits, and apparently there is, or has been, some interior and exterior renovation work. The marquee pole sign says "closed" and we got no answer at the listed phone number, (501) 227-4618.

Chef Andre Poirot, sommelier Jonathan Looney and the Capital Hotel's Chuck Magill, who used to live in New Orleans, are collaborating on the September "Food, Libations & Conversations -- Creole Celebration," 6:30 p.m. today at the hotel, 111 W. Markham St., Little Rock. Cost is $93. Visit

Aug. 27 was its last day of service for Home Plate Diner, 2615 N. Prickett Road, Bryant. A call to the phone number, (501) 847-3331, revealed there is a potential buyer.

And speaking of Bryant, progress appears to be progressing toward the opening of Yum Yum Hibachi Express in the former Paula Lynn's Sandwich and Sweet Shop, 302 S. Reynolds Road, Bryant. A new sign has sprouted on the exterior and there is a Facebook page: We previously reported that it will serve hibachi-grilled-in-the-kitchen chicken, steak, shrimp and vegetables with fried rice, plus a selection of Japanese appetizers -- fried spring rolls, dumplings, edamame and seaweed salad. Hours are tentatively set for 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

And still speaking of Bryant, groundbreaking took place and construction began Aug. 13 for Don Pepe's Gourmet Burritos & Tacos, somewhere in the 1500 block of North Reynolds Road. (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.") It's a second location for a Conway restaurant of the same name at 2225 Prince St. Target opening date is now "early spring 2019," according to the Conway restaurant's Facebook page, Get a glimpse of the Conway menu at

Bonefish Grill outlets, including the one at 11525 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, are serving a four-course, prix fixe dinner for two it's calling the OMG (Ocean Mixed Grill). Through Sept. 30, for $49 you get a shareable appetizer ("world-famous Bang Bang Shrimp"); two salads (house or Caesar); three side dishes (potatoes au gratin, Brussels sprouts and a seasonal vegetable); and a choice of Fresh Wood-Grilled Atlantic Salmon, Caribbean Cobia, Shrimp & Scallop Skewer or the Neighborhood Catch. The phone number is (501) 228-0356.

The Arkansas State Archives' fifth annual Foodways Symposium, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 15 at the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College's Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute, 13000 Interstate 30, Little Rock, focuses on "From China's Farmlands to Arkansas's Delta: A History of Arkansas's Chinese Immigrants." The symposium will include talks on the past, present and future of Chinese food in Arkansas and a cooking demonstration. Lunch will be provided. Admission is free; register online by Monday at

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 Democrat-Gazette file photo
Chef Coby Smith is shown in this photo.

Weekend on 09/06/2018

Print Headline: Restaurant Transitions: New Chili’s set to open, former spot gains Grub’s; chef leaves hospital cafe; Kontiki opens


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  • MaxCady
    September 6, 2018 at 10:09 a.m.

    Aren't ramen noodles high in sodium?? Not exactly what I'd give to someone with a bum ticker.

  • hurricane46
    September 6, 2018 at 11:09 a.m.

    The Grubs in Fort Smith closed a couple of months ago, the people there only like buffets and Tex-Mex.

  • MaxCady
    September 6, 2018 at 6:26 p.m.

    If you adopt an Arkansas diet you're more than likely to end up with metabolic syndrome and a shortened life span.