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story.lead_photo.caption The former Cock of the Walk building is being turned into a restaurant/bar/event center called Cypress Social, scheduled to open in December. Democrat-Gazette file photo

JTJ Restaurants LLC (that's Jim, Tommy and Jake Keet) are establishing a new restaurant/bar in the former Cock of the Walk campus, 7103 Cock of the Walk Lane (off Maumelle Boulevard), on the North Little Rock side of Maumelle Boulevard.

Jim Keet expects to open Cypress Social in early or mid-December, pending the complexity of construction that has involved "basically destroying and rebuilding the building," tearing down all the walls and the ceiling, "ripping the floor up, redoing all the floor joists, rebuilding the structural component of the roof [and] gutting and remodeling the kitchen." They are retaining "a lot of the natural cypress" from Cock of the Walk — hence the name. (They've also added a 1,200-square-foot storage facility and are repaving the lot.)

Keet describes the new establishment as having "approachable but elevated atmosphere and menu," the latter still in development but which will have seafood and "exceptional steaks that we cut ourselves" at price points of $20 or less per entree, though with some higher items. It'll be open for dinner from either Tuesday or Wednesday through Saturday plus for Sunday brunch; during the day, they'll be able to use the space seven days a week for weddings, special events and corporate parties. It'll have more space than any of the current JTJ restaurants for larger parties at night, including two private rooms, one of which will seat 50.

Jim Keet. Democrat-Gazette file photo

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The Library Kitchen + Lounge, which developer Rob Byford describes as "a high energy concept" including the street-side "TOGO" a Bar with quick-service menu items, is on track to open in November or December in the former Gusano's space, 313 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock. The bar-on-the-street is taking advantage of the newly created River Market Entertainment District, within which consumers of alcoholic beverages can take them out onto the street on weekends and during specific celebratory events.

The main part of the restaurant will feature garage-style doors facing the street, reports Rock City Eats; the front area will be a lounge area complete with artificial turf and large flat-screen TVs broadcasting sports. The current stage area will remain in the back for live music. Bar areas will feature a number of local craft beers and cocktails. The menu will display a Delta influence, playing off Byford's Memphis and Arkansas roots, including barbecue — meat platters, sandwiches, nachos, wings and Memphis-style ribs — plus pasta selections featuring Byford's award-winning Sunday Italian Gravy.

You may recognize Byford's name, by the way, as the central Arkansas franchisee for Slim Chickens and Pie Five.

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Details are still sketchy, but we're now looking at an early October opening for the downtown location of A.W. Lin's, 307 Main St., Little Rock, where its neighbors on the block include Allsopp & Chapple, Brewski's Pub & Grub, Samantha's Tap Room and Wood Grill, Bruno's Little Italy and Soul Fish. The Asian-fusion restaurant's original location is in the Promenade at Chenal, 17717 Chenal Parkway; the phone number there is (501) 821-5398. The owners recommend keeping track of the downtown progress at their Facebook page, facebook.com/AwLins.

Wednesday was, at long last, opening day for Yeh Mon Jamaican Restaurant in the Bowman Curve Shopping Center, 200 N. Bowman Road, Little Rock. It's west Little Rock's second Jamaican restaurant (Taste of Jamaica has been up and running for a couple of months on North Rodney Parham Road); owner Patrick Blackburn has been promising a menu centered on curried and jerk chicken, red beans and rice, curried goat, ox tails and brown-stew chicken and brown-stew steak. Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11-9 Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. The telephone number is (501) 246-4912.

Also in the long-awaited-and-finally opening category is Rocky's on Country Club, the resurrection of Rocky's Pub, set to open its doors today at 117 Country Club Road, Sherwood, in what once was Jo Jo's Bar-B-Q. Initial hours are 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and the grand-opening menu is pretty simple: appetizers — fried ravioli, bacon cheese fries; sandwiches (with chips) — Philly cheesesteak, chicken cheesesteak, meatball parmesan; entrees — spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, chicken carbonara; dessert — homemade chocolate creme brulee. The phone number is (501) 392-6150. And the Facebook page: facebook.com/Rockysoncountryclub.

One more delay in the putting together of the Dickey's Barbecue Pit pushes back the opening at least another week in the former Starbucks, 9401 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock. But franchisee Lonnie Shere says he now has in place on his "awesome patio" the 1941 Chevy pickup from which he has removed the bed and put a table. Hours will be 11 a.m.-9 daily. The phone number is (501) 223-3425.

Just Ice Cream, having moved out of Benton's Main St. Station, 301 N. Main St. (at Conway Street), has opened in its new, bigger space at 115 N. Market St., previously the home of Silver Linings, Twigs and Leave it to Liz. Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday. We haven't been able to turn up a phone number; the Facebook page is facebook.com/eatjusticecream.

And speaking of Benton, Heather Baber, president and CEO of Baja Grill, says there's a tentative target of mid-November for the opening of its second location in the former Palace Theater, 224 W. South St., Benton, which area developer Shawn Hipskind is in the process of renovating. You will recall that the operation started out as a Benton-based food truck before taking over the brick-and-mortar space at 5923 Kavanaugh Blvd. in Little Rock's Pulaski Heights, so this is a return to its Saline County roots. Baber anticipates that the Benton outlet will have the same menu and the same hours — 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; they're looking at keeping the bar area open perhaps an hour later than the dining room, "but we're going to play that by ear," she says. The number in the Heights is (501) 749-1400; the website is EatBajaGrill.com.

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Mary Beth Ringgold. Democrat-Gazette file photo
Lorri Hambuchen. Democrat-Gazette file photo

Restaurateur Mary Beth Ringgold and wine educator and columnist Lorri Hambuchen will co-chair the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College Foundation's 13th annual Diamond Chef Arkansas competition April 23 at the college's Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute, 13000 Interstate 30, Little Rock. Together they bring, as a news release archly observed, "more than 60 years of combined restaurant and hospitality expertise to the table."

Ringgold, a past Diamond Chef winner and judge, is the owner and chef of Copper Grill and Capers and until recently, the late, lamented Cajun's Wharf. Hambuchen, an Arkansas native, holds a diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) in London; is the owner and operator of the Wine Center, the Arkansas host for WSET programs; and writes the "Uncorked" wine column for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The preliminary competition, "Diamond Chef: Makin' the Cut," takes place on Nov. 13; the top six winners who advance will compete April 23 against the 2019 champion, Jordan Davis of the Chenal Country Club.

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 note to Restaurants, Weekend Section, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, Ark. 72203. Send email to:

eharrison@arkansasonline.com

Weekend on 08/29/2019

Print Headline: RESTAURANT NEWS: Keets to launch new eatery; Library Kitchen + Lounge headed for River Market

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