May 1 is the target for the opening of the new McDonald's at 515 W. Sixth St. at Broadway, Little Rock, being billed as "flagship location for central Arkansas" and replacing the one catty-cornered at 701 Broadway.
Hal Burt, president of the Mississippi-based Retzer Cos., which owns and will operate the new location, says to expect the standard McDonald's menu but it'll have all the new McDonald's bells and whistles, including the electronic ordering kiosks, similar to the one at Interstate 30 and East Broadway in North Little Rock, and the latest and greatest decor package. Yes, there will still be humans operating the state-of-the-art kitchen equipment (including prep areas and zoom timers that monitor drive-through performance) and a few "guest experience leads" out front to help customers order and deliver food across the counters and provide table service.
The building layout had to be turned sideways on the lot to accommodate the dual-lane drive-through system — "the other way, it wouldn't fit," Burt explains — with brand new digital ordering boards.
The seating — 93 — and square footage — 4,993 — are actually similar to that in the two-story building they're abandoning; they have to be out by April 26 (so there will be a weeklong transition period in which there will be no downtown Little Rock McDonald's). No word yet on what that building might become, but Burt says he hopes it won't be another fast-food franchise. It's among the 100 locations that Retzer also owns and operates. (That includes central Arkansas outlets on South University Avenue and Fourche Dam Pike in Little Rock, on Camp Robinson Road and at Prothro Junction in North Little Rock, two in Maumelle, four in Conway and one in Lonoke.)
By the way, when it opens, this will be one of only 25 or so locations across the country to receive an Avengers wrap as part of McDonald's partnership with Disney for the release of Avengers: Endgame.
Oh, and speaking of McDonald's, recently remodeled Little Rock locations have reopened at 7721 Cantrell Road and 8820 Baseline Road.
The Cupcake Factory, 18104 Kanis Road, Little Rock, posted on Facebook April 6: "Coming soon! We will be opening an additional Cupcake Factory in the Heights!! We are excited to be a part of the neighborhood!" And yes, it is going into the former Cupcakes on Kavanaugh storefront, 5625 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock. Owner Melissa Bristow says she's shooting for an April 30 opening, in time to take advantage of the May 4 Cinco de Heights Street Fiesta along that stretch of Kavanaugh. Hours tentatively are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. She's in negotiations to keep the Cupcakes on Kavanaugh phone number — (501) 664-2253 — but that's not yet set in stone. Meanwhile, the number at the original location is (501) 821-9913.
You will recall we've been reporting on a pending restaurant space on the ground floor of the Pyramid Building, 221 W. Second St., Little Rock; in the meanwhile, a coffee shop has also opened there, on the opposite side of the Second Street entranceway, in what had once been an art gallery (Gallery 221). 2 Twenty 1 is serving and selling gourmet coffees and teas, with plans to soon start offering breakfast scones and other pastries and grab-and-go sandwiches (a chef has been hired, we're told, but has not yet started work). Hours are currently and temporarily 8 a.m. to 3:30 or 4 p.m. weekdays; eventual plans are to open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. The phone number is (501) 225-6220. Oh, and the nice folks that run the place say they're pretty definite that what is going into the neighboring former Subway space will be Wicked Taco, the brick-and-mortar incarnation of the Grills on Wheels Mexican food truck.
Gadwall's Grill, 7311 North Hills Blvd., Sherwood, is marking its 30th anniversary Friday-Saturday with throwback 30-cent fries (when purchased with an entree) and $1 domestic draft beers and $1 nonalcoholic beverages. Co-owner Shea Bryant explains that her parents bought out her aunt 20 years ago, and "that's when my brother and I became co-owners." Her mother no longer works on the floor ("unless it's an emergency") but she still does the deposits "and comes in like a tornado to drop off tomatoes (which we buy from a market to have fresher), stuff from Sam's [Club], and she loves to find bargains for the place! We just scored a ton of stuff cheap from a closed Dixie Cafe!" Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. The phone number is (501) 834-1840.
Bryant is also the almost-new owner of Town Pump, 1321 Rebsamen Park Road, in Little Rock's Riverdale. She actually took the place over Nov. 9, but has been waiting to make a formal announcement until she'd remodeled the restrooms, taken care of some electrical issues, updated the dishwashing equipment and gotten a new point-of-sale system in place. Her new menu keeps some former items and introduces new ones (including a no-bean chili), and she has replaced the former frozen hamburger patties with fresh, hand-pattied meat. She has kept $2 Taco Tuesdays and 75-cent Wing Wednesdays ("with ALL day happy hour") and hopes in the near future to add Saturday and Sunday brunch "with mimosas and a bloody Mary bar." They've been doing $25 crawfish boils (three pounds with corn and potatoes) on alternate Sundays — the next one will be April 27. She has kept up the Tuesday- and Friday-night karaoke and added live trivia on Thursdays, hosted by fishing-show mogul "Big Sarge," and some live music. Plans are to add more TVs on the patio and the interior and switching to a satellite service for a better sports package. Hours are 11 a.m.-midnight Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Tuesday and Friday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Saturday and noon-10 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (501) 663-9802.
We don't yet know yet what it will be, but we're keeping an eye on some kind of interior work that's going on at the former Core Brewing Argenta pub, 411 Main St., North Little Rock, which closed Dec. 31.
The beginning of May is the target for the opening of Don Pepe's Gourmet Burritos and Tacos, 1427 N. Reynolds Road, Bryant, and they're accepting resumes (email Donpepesburritosandtacos@gmail.com). It's a second location for a Conway restaurant of the same name at 2225 Prince St. Hours will be the same as the Conway location: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.Friday-Saturday. There's not yet a telephone number. The Conway restaurant's Facebook page is facebook.com/donpepes2014; the website, where you can view the Conway menu, is don-pepes.com.
Foghorn Wings #6 has opened at 2310 Sanders St., Conway (in the former Outback Steakhouse just off Exit 125 of Interstate 40). Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 205-4299; the website, foghornswings.com.
So, is this a case of "lese-majestic?" The Majestic Cafe & Bakery, 250 Park Ave, Hot Springs, no longer makes "the finest gluten-free baked goods in the area" (as touted on Facebook). Google lists it as "permanently closed," barely a year after it opened, and the phone number, (501) 463-4777, appears to have been disconnected. (Former tenants of the building include Quarters Cafe and Spa City Doughnuts.) A check on the address turns up a February building permit application, for a certificate of occupancy for a new candy shop.
The Root, 1500 Main St., Little Rock, is hosting the fifth annual Traditional Pie Bake-off and Recipe Swap, 4:30-6 p.m. April 28. Interested in entering? Provide your best pie and copies of the recipe (if you'd like to trade with other bakers); prepare five bites for the panel of four judges and the emcee (judges: Dorie Greenspan, who is "Everyday Dorie" for the New York Times Magazine and a five-time James Beard Award winner; Pam Smith, "Pam's Picks"; Elizabeth Minchilli, The Italian Table; Matt Bell, co-owner/chef at South on Main; Kat Robinson, author of Arkansas Pie; emcee: Kevin Shalin of The Mighty Rib). They'll judge pies on appearance, flavor and texture and award five blue ribbons and one best-in-show. It's an official Arkansas Literary Festival event. Call (501) 414-0423 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Capital Hotel, 111 W. Markham St., Little Rock, will host a Ridge Vineyards Wine Tasting with vineyards' winemaker Eric Baugher in its Brooks Parlor, 5-7 p.m. April 25. Each of the four courses will be paired with one or more of the winery's wines (and the hotel's main restaurant, One Eleven, will offer those wines at a 30 percent discount). Cost is $55, including tax and gratuity; visit tinyurl.com/y38c9cbq.
And the Little Rock Zoo's Wild Wines at the zoo, 1 Zoo Drive in War Memorial Park, Little Rock, a benefit for the Arkansas Zoological Foundation, spreads the celebration over two nights:
• VIP night, 7-9 p.m. April 26 (higher-end wines, selected from O'Looney's Wine and Liquor, paired with food and desserts from 42 Bar and Table, Cache, Cocoa Belle, Ocean's at Arthur's, Petit & Keet, Pine Bluff Country Club, So Restaurant-Bar, Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe, The Vintage Kitchen and YaYa's Euro Bistro) plus entertainment by Little Rock Drum Circle, Darril Harp Edwards, Brian Nahlen and Rodney Block and the Real Music Lovers; tickets: $150, also includes admission to the "Mane Event" (below).
• The "Mane Event," 7-10 p.m. April 27 (more than 250 wines from O'Looney's, live entertainment, and food and beverages from Allsopp & Chapple, American Pie Pizza, Blue Cake Co., Bonefish Grill, the zoo's Cafe Africa, Cantina Laredo, Chuy's, Ciao Baci, Community Bakery, Doe's Eat Place, Fassler Hall, Flossie's Foods, Grumpy's Too, the Hiland Dairy Cooking Team, IHOP, Loblolly Creamery, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Pop Pop Shoppe, Potbelly, Red Lobster, Skinny J's, South on Main, Table 28, Vino's, YaYa's, Yellow Rocket Concepts and Yuengling) ; tickets: $75.
Ticket price includes a souvenir wine glass. You must be 21 or older to attend. Visit littlerockzoo.com.
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 send a snail-mail note to Restaurants, Weekend Section, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, Ark. 72203. Send email to:
CORRECTION: The Retzer Cos. are headquartered in Greenville, Miss. An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed their home base.
Weekend on 04/18/2019
Print Headline: 'Flagship' McDonald's + new coffee shop in downtown LR; Cupcake Factory in the Heights