James Hale, former co-owner of Acadia in the Heights, who joined the culinary team at the Capital Hotel, 111 W. Markham St., Little Rock, in 2017 and has been the morning chef at One Eleven at the Capital, is now the new chef at the Capital Bar & Grill, the hotel's secondary bar/restaurant. He says he has actually been there since the second week of March. The hotel's marketing folks particularly note Hale's New Orleans roots, reflected in what Hale says is the hottest-selling of his new dinner entrees: blackened redfish with crawfish cream and grits.
Other dinner entree additions: a frog-leg poutine and Hale's signature smoked Gouda mac and cheese with portobello mushrooms and white truffle oil, which Acadia devotees will certainly remember. "I've had it with me for a long time," Hale says. "In 30 years of cooking, it's probably the simplest dish I've ever done, but people seem to like it. I've tried to get rid of it, but people kept asking for it." (Check out the dinner menu at capitalhotel.com/bar-and-grill/bar-grill-dinner.)
Hale plans to tackle the lunch menu down the line, but "any changes we're going to make, we'll make slowly," he says, recognizing that the Capital Bar & Grill is "an institution, and it's certainly bigger than I am." He plans to strictly leave alone the standards — "the gumbo will be the gumbo," he says, and he has no plans whatsoever to mess with the spiced pecans or the pimento cheese dip.
Hours will remain the same: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. The hotel phone number is (501) 374-7474.
June 3 is the grand opening date for the Magnolia Skillet, in the the former White Pig Inn, 5231 E. Broadway in North Little Rock's Rose City. The folks that run it posted a menu Saturday on the Facebook page, facebook.com/Magnolia-Skillet-363934910909863, with the message, "Here is our menu, so you can start thinking about those orders!!" That menu includes breakfast combos, whole chicken wings, burgers (including turkey and veggie) and sandwiches, ribs, smoked chicken, pork chops and catfish, and a string of daily home-cooking specials. The Facebook page lists the planned hours as 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. We couldn't get anyone to answer the phone at the listed number, (501) 615-8502.
May 4 was the grand opening of Mama D's Diner in the revolving-door diner space at 250 E. Military Drive, North Little Rock, for many years the home of Starlite Diner and which has housed at least a half-dozen places since. The menu, as posted on the Facebook page (facebook.com/Mama-Ds-841316442903082), is slightly upscale diner fare: eggs, potatoes, toast, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, French toast, omelets, ham, bacon and sausage for breakfast; fried chicken, fried catfish, chicken fried steak, fried rice, burgers, sandwiches and hot dogs for lunch and dinner. Hours are 6 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (501) 747-1991.
The Cupcake Factory opened its new Heights branch in the former Cupcakes on Kavanaugh storefront, 5625 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, May 5, right on target for the Cinco de Heights Street Fiesta. Hours are in transition — owner Melissa Bristow has been assessing the difference between the amount of foot traffic in the Heights and the original location, 18104 Kanis Road, Little Rock (hint: there is pretty much no foot traffic along that stretch of Kanis Road), but for the moment they're operating 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. And Bristow managed to retain the Cupcakes on Kavanaugh phone number — (501) 664-2253 (CAKE).
Anchor Realty Investments LLC, a company controlled by David's Burgers' namesake David Bubbus, has bought the former IberiaBank branch at 11100 Financial Center Parkway, Little Rock. A spokesman says the company has no specific plans yet for the building and that at least for the moment it is not intended for either a new David's Burgers outlet or a relocation from the nearby location at Markham Street and Bowman Road. The same spokesman says there are also no plans in place for the formerMexico Chiquito at 13924 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, which that same real estate company bought last year.
We still don't know the name of the new owner(s) of Mylo Coffee Co., 2715 Kavanaugh Blvd. in Little Rock's Hillcrest, but the coffee shop-slash-bakery posted this additional tease Monday on its Facebook page, facebook.com/MyloCoffeeCo: "Like so many of you, we are die-hard fans of the Mylo that you know and love. Mylo's mission is to provide the Hillcrest neighborhood a place that supports the eclectic community while providing the premium quality it deserves. We are thankful for your support in creating a business that does just that. Mylo is excited to announce a change in leadership that will continue to build on the same amazing products and service you've come to expect, and will continue to drive forward our purpose of creating a positive impact here in our neighborhood, and in the world at large."
We've gotten several inquiries as to what's going into the former Pizza Hut at 47th Street and Camp Robinson Road in North Little Rock. If you know anything, give us a holler — phone number and email address are at the end of this column.
The Papa Murphy's Pizza franchise at 5311 Arkansas 5, Bryant, has closed; its last day was Monday. Franchisee Jason Peterson says the location was approaching the end of its lease "and there is a major road construction project in front of the store that will extend well into 2020. There was just too much uncertainty to consider a lease extension at this location for another five years." All the employees have been offered employment at other area Papa Murphy's locations in Hot Springs, Conway, Little Rock and Russellville. And it is probably not the last business casualty of that road construction project along Arkansas 5 in Bryant.
Little Caesars has chosen central Arkansas as a test market for its new Chorizo Quesadilla Pizza, which the chain describes as "a large thin-crust pizza with a crispy cheddar-cheese edge, white queso sauce and topped with spicy chorizo, a blend of cheeses, pico de gallo and jalapenos." The four-week test starts Monday at 25 central Arkansas Little Caesars locations.
Ceci's Chicken N Waffles, 1600 Dave Ward Drive, Conway, has closed and the phone number, (501) 358-6944, appears to have been disconnected. Reports last year, including a video posted Oct. 10 on Facebook, were that owner Ciceley McDowell was planning to open either a second location in or a total move to Little Rock sometime this year. She uprooted and moved the original restaurant from 324 E. 13th St., North Little Rock, to Conway about two years ago. In the video, McDowell says while she was planning to keep the Conway location, "I've always wanted to have at least two restaurants, so I'm super excited about it."
Meanwhile, Sam's Southern Eatery has opened a Conway branch nearby at 1515 Dave Ward Drive. Hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (501) 504-2719; the website, samssoutherneatery.com.
A building permit listing in Monday's Hot Springs Sentinel-Record indicates the Waters Hotel, 340 Central Ave. in the Spa City, is planning to spend $320,000 to put together a rooftop bar.
The folks at Reviews.org, self-described as "a team of enthusiasts researching home services and tech," delved through "thousands of Yelp reviews to find the definitively best ramen in every state, according to the perfect mix of star ratings and number of reviews," and published online their findings at reviews.org/trends/the-most-reviewed-ramen-in-your-state. The Arkansas champion: Meiji Japanese Cuisine, 3878 N. Crossover Road, Fayetteville, with a composite 4 stars from 129 reviews. Two Little Rock restaurants — Fuji Japanese Steakhouse and Aji Ramen Bar — were the runners-up.
And the Genghis Grill chain, which has an outlet at 12318 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, is partnering with No Kid Hungry in a fundraising campaign through June 9 meant to address the higher degree of food insecurity in the summer when school meals aren't available to hungry students. The timing of the campaign is meant to address this key summer gap. Guests can donate $3 or more to buy a No Kid Hungry pinup which, with the guest's name on it, will be placed on restaurant walls; donors will also receive a $5 "bounce back" gift card. Visit genghisgrill.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 note to Restaurants, Weekend Section, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, Ark. 72203. Send email to:
Weekend on 05/16/2019
Print Headline: RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: New chef at Capital Bar; Magnolia Skillet to debut; Mama D's Diner in North Little Rock