Blair Wallace, a former account executive at CJRW, took over Monday as the new owner of Ciao Baci, 605 Beechwood St. in Little Rock's Hillcrest. She has bought the place from Suzanne Boscarolo, who will remain with the restaurant as a managing partner. Wallace worked for several years at Ciao Baci, waiting tables and bartending, says Boscarolo, who opened the restaurant in 2001 as an offshoot of Ciao, a downtown Italian restaurant she used to own and manage. "It's a great move," she adds. "Everybody is very excited."
Expect few changes; Boscarolo and Wallace say they're going to maintain an emphasis on the restaurant's dining experience and highlight the work of executive chef Jeffrey Owen. "We want to let people know how wonderful his cuisine is," Boscarolo says. Owen crafts a new seasonal menu four times a year, "and his chef's tasting has been very popular, a five-course meal he creates different every night," Boscarolo explains, so you're likely to see more and more varied daily specials out of Owen's kitchen.
Hours will remain 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Friday, 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday. The phone remains (501) 603-0238.
And speaking of changes in ownership, Little Rock's only Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakery outlet, 16103 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, also has a new owner: Scott Marks has bought the local franchise from Kevin Kestner, as per this June 21 post on the restaurant's Facebook page (facebook.com/MellowMushroomLittleRock): "Hey Shroomers, Mellow Mushroom is under new ownership. We will be closed on Monday June 24 to make this transition as smooth as possible. Will reopen Tuesday June 25 for lunch." Expect few changes, though one has already surfaced: A Friday-Saturday late-night happy hour, 10 p.m.- midnight with a limited menu, along the lines of pizza slices and wings, with drink specials. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday. The phone number is (501) 379-9157.
And it looks like Mellow Mushroom is going to get a new next-door neighbor. Monday's list of Little Rock Planning & Development Department building permit applications includes $1.1 million for the construction of a Slim Chickens at 16101 Chenal Parkway. There's also a permit application for $400,000 to turn the Iberia bank building at 10900 Colonel Glenn Road into a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.
Sakura, 4011 E. Kiehl Ave., Sherwood, has closed. There's a "for lease" sign in the window and the phone number, (501) 834-3546, has been disconnected. And to forestall reader queries, it's extremely rare — like, almost never — that restaurant owners contact us to explain their closures; unless they post something on their doors or their Facebook pages, neither of which has happened here, we don't know why a place has closed. Oh, and we're told there's no connection to the Sakura Japanese Restaurant at 7307 Alcoa Road, Bryant. That's still open; their hours are 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (501) 778-9585; the website is sakurabryant.com.
And speaking of Sherwood, Joel Dunlap says he's awaiting inspections for permits while negotiating "city paperwork" for the opening of the resurrected Rocky's Pub in the former Jo Jo's Bar-B-Q, 117 Country Club Road, Sherwood. Meanwhile, he's been experimenting, including on some new desserts, in his home kitchen. The original steak sandwich shop/Italian restaurant/bar in the Indian Hills Shopping Center on John F. Kennedy Boulevard, just on the North Little Rock side of the border with Sherwood, closed in January 2014. Hours will be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Dunlap is currently using his catering number, (501) 732-7400, with plans to switch over to an actual restaurant phone number once he's open. The Facebook page is facebook.com/Rockys-Pub-131500486916235.
One of our eagle-eyed readers reports the apparent closure of the Church's Chicken at 4604 E. Broadway, North Little Rock. A call to the listed phone number, (501) 945-1224, returned a message that told us the voice mailbox is full and then curtly told us to hang up.
Rock City Eats reports that Rebel Kettle Brewing Co. is looking to be the first operation to take advantage of Act 681, by which the state Legislature allows for the operation of microbrewery/restaurants in dry counties, planning a production brewery and brewpub at 1090 Spencer St., Conway, in dry Faulkner County. Rebel Kettle founder/head brewer John Lee says the new brewpub will produce products just for that location, with four or five year-round beers and a rotating list of "Conway exclusive" brews. The law specifies that all beer will have to be consumed on the premises, so there'll be no to-go growlers. Lee tells Rock City Eats he's hoping to get things underway by the end of summer and open by the end of the year.
We reported last week in connection with the demise of the Krispy Kreme at 1315 S. Shackleford Road, Little Rock, that there were two surviving Arkansas outlets, in Conway and Jonesboro. Subsequently, a reader pointed us toward the Krispy Kreme at 1502 S.E. Walton Blvd., Bentonville, which did not, and still does not, show up on the Arkansas list or map on Krispy Kreme's website (krispykreme.com/locate/location-search), though you can find it if you specifically ask if there's one in Bentonville. The phone number there is (479) 273-0168.
In the wake of the purchase by restaurant delivery service Waitr of rival Bite Squad earlier this year, the two services last week combined Little Rock operations under the Bite Squad flag. According to a news release, it'll give customers access to more than 230 area restaurant partners on the newly consolidated platform, starting at $2.99 per delivery. Waitr partner restaurants and uniformed employee drivers — now clad in a slightly different shade of green — are transitioning to the Bite Squad platform. Waitr and any new customers must download the Bite Squad app on an Apple (iPhone and iPad) or Android device or you can order online at bitesquad.com.
And the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance is seeking volunteers for its 10th annual Watermelon Crawl, a community service event in which volunteers pick fresh watermelons for donation to local food banks, pantries, shelters and soup kitchens. It'll be easier, perhaps, when they announce an official date in mid-July; it's expected to take place in late July or early August at Scott Melons & Produce in Scott. Among the incentives to participate: music, games and cooling stations. Volunteers will be expected to provide their own close-toed shoes, sunscreen and gloves. Visit the Facebook page, facebook.com/ARHungerAlliance, for more information and updates.
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:
Weekend on 07/04/2019
Print Headline: RESTAURANT NEWS: Ex-waitress buys Ciao Baci; Slim Chickens in west LR; Sakura shuts