Dr. Meraj Siddiqui, co-founder of Pain Treatment Centers of America, and his colleague Dr. Ahmad Rafi are the new owners of Kemuri sushi, seafood, robata, 2601 Kavanaugh Blvd., in Little Rock's Hillcrest. They admit their experience involves running a medical practice and they have none in the restaurant business, so they have brought in to manage the place experienced restaurateur Dave Bisceglia, who has been an occasional associate of former owner Jerry Barakat and who has most recently operated, among other eateries, Dave & Ray's Downtown Diner and Salut Italian Bistro.
Bisceglia and the two new owners insist that -- a few potential minor tweaks to the decor and the menu aside -- they are planning no significant changes whatsoever to the Japanese-fusion restaurant, which has been and continues to be highly successful. In fact, Siddiqui says, the ongoing success of the restaurant is the primary reason he and Rafi were persuaded to make the investment. Recent changes already in place include a significantly expanded wine list and some new cocktails. A few other things are under discussion, like acquiring more nearby parking space and/or restoring free valet parking.
They have brought in Gilbert Alaquinez, formerly the executive chef at the Clinton Presidential Center, joining chef/kitchen manager Ricardo Ricon and sushi chef Haidar Assegaf. They're looking to increase inter-chef coordination, and all three will have a chance to show off their creativity through daily and/or weekly specials. Otherwise the staff has remained pretty much intact. The new owners say they're very much in favor of a team concept and therefore expect to give their employees a fairly free hand.
Hours will continue to be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4:30-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4:30-10:30 p.m. Friday, 4:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (for brunch) and 4:30-9 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (501) 660-4100.
TAE (True Arkansas Eatery + Lounge), inside the Hotel Frederica, 625 W. Capitol Ave., Little Rock, closed over the weekend. The rebound project for Justin Patterson and CC Key opened in June following the closure of their Southern Gourmasian, a popular food truck that had established a brick-and-mortar location on Capitol a couple of blocks east in 2015, in February. It had been reportedly struggling, in part, perhaps, because Patterson reportedly had burned out and pulled out (the website Rock City Eats reports he has moved back to his childhood home in Lepanto and that he says he is unlikely to cook in Little Rock again). By deadline, the phone number, (501) 301-0892, continued to return a voicemail message with operating hours.
Jan. 22 is the debut date for the LongHorn Steakhouse, 3911 McCain Blvd., North Little Rock, with a 2 p.m. ribbon cutting and opening to the public at 3. Hours thereafter will be 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 753-4629. The building was formerly a Sears Auto Center. LongHorn has central Arkansas outlets at 2628 S. Shackleford Road, Little Rock, and 1470 Higdon Ferry Road, Hot Springs, with restaurants also in Jonesboro, Fort Smith and Texarkana.
Dec. 31 was the last day of operation for Core Brewing's Argenta pub, 411 Main St., North Little Rock, although the phone number, (501) 372-1390, had not yet been disconnected as of deadline. A Jan. 3 post on the Facebook page thanked patrons and directed them across the river to the Core Public House in Little Rock's SoMA neighborhood, 1214 Main St. We were unable to confirm by deadline, however, that that establishment has at least temporarily stopped serving food. The hours there: 3-9 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 3-11 p.m. Thursday-Friday, noon-11 p.m. Saturday, noon-9 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (501) 353-2489.
Pizza D'Action, more familiarly and affectionately known as Pizza D', 2915-2919 W. Markham St., the "point" of Little Rock's Stifft Station, closed Dec. 30 as we were told it would, ending a more than four-decade run for the venerable pizza joint and hangout. Most of the signs inside and out are gone. We have been unable to confirm rumors that it might sooner or later reopen under new ownership.
A letter to customers posted on the door the Starbucks at 9401 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, informs them that as of "Dec. 31 at 7 p.m." the store "will be permanently closing," directing patrons to three other west Little Rock options: "Starbucks Market St." (Market Street Shopping Center, 11121 N. Rodney Parham), Cantrell Road and Mississippi Street and Cantrell and Sam Peck roads. Meanwhile, the Starbucks at Kavanaugh Boulevard and North Pierce Street in Little Rock's Pulaski Heights also closed as predicted at year's end. All signs and other traces that the storefront ever housed a Starbucks have been removed and for-lease signs bearing the phone number of property owner Lou Schickel, are on the railings outside.
Chi's Asian Cafe and Sushi Bar, 3421 Old Cantrell Road in Little Rock's Riverdale neighborhood, which has been unable to serve sushi for several months (with a sign up front apologizing to patrons accordingly) because they've been without a sushi chef, has hired a sushi chef and resumed serving sushi as of Dec. 30. Hours are 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. daily. The phone number is (501) 916-9973.
Chef-owner Peter Brave has signed a seven-year lease to keep Brave New Restaurant in the WindRiver Building, 2300 Cottondale Lane, Little Rock, which recently sold for $2.7 million to a consortium called 2300 Cottondale Building, LLC. The new owners say they're planning to upgrade the building's common areas and install a new roof.
If you needed proof that the Gigi's Cupcakes outlet in the Park Avenue Shopping Center, 416 S. University Ave., Little Rock, has closed, look no further than the website (gigiscupcakesusa.com/pages/university-little-rock-arkansas), which not only has the legend "Store Closed" imprinted on a photo of three strawberry cupcakes, but has removed the phone number and lists the hours as "Sunday: closed," "Monday: closed" and so on down the line. And at the bottom of the page, it repeats: "Store closed." You will recall that the Gigi's outlet at 12800 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, closed Aug. 4 and a sign on the door directed customers to "get your cupcake fix" at the University Avenue location. For more information on the considerable difficulty the entire chain is undergoing, visit franchisetimes.com/May-2018/Post-sale-cupcake-wars-hit-Gigis.
Cromwell Architects Engineers is hosting, weather permitting, a food truck each Monday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., near its front door at 1300 E. Sixth St., Little Rock. The schedule: this coming Monday, Feb. 4 and March 4: Tren Al Sur (Venezuelan cuisine); Jan. 21 and Feb. 18: The Rock, brick-oven pizza; Jan. 28 and March 25: Delta Biscuit; Feb. 11 and March 18: Nach'yo Nachos; and March 11: Jefferson Mobile Grilling. Food-truck operators interested in participating thereafter should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Conway IHOP, 1161 Old Morrilton Highway, where U.S. 64, U.S. 65 and Harkrider Street meet, is cutting back its hours. A sign on the door says Sunday was to be the last day for 24/7 operation; effective Monday, hours would be 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 24 hours Friday-Saturday, and lists two area IHOPs as still staying open 24/7, at 11601 Hermitage Road, Little Rock, and 4225 Warden Road, North Little Rock. The IHOPs at 101 N University Ave. at West Markham Street, Little Rock, and 11501 Maumelle Blvd., North Little Rock are open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 6 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday.
Through Jan. 18, customers who buy a Blizzard dessert at the four DQ locations that You Scream Holdings LLC operates (in Sherwood, Little Rock, Cabot and Benton) are eligible to win the "Golden Blizzard" and $1,000 cash. The award will be random and it will not matter what size Blizzard the customer buys.
And while it's probably eminently predictable, it's still a little depressing if you're a foodie to learn that Influenster, a product ratings and review community, listing via 50,000 reviews which condiment is "the most buzzed-about" in each state, says the front-runner in Arkansas is Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing.
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 01/10/2019
Print Headline: Restaurant Transitions: 2 doctors are new owners of Hillcrest eatery; TAE, Core in Argenta, Pizza D' all close