Target is Tuesday for the opening of Haybird Chicken, a pop-up fried chicken shop from those who run Three Fold Noodles + Dumpling Co., in Three Fold's original location, 215 Center St., Little Rock (most recently the home of the now-defunct Hanaroo).
The menu centers on Asian-style fried chicken, lighter than the traditional Southern-style — seasoned, marinated, boneless breasts (white meat) and full legs (dark meat), cut into portions of manageable size and served with a side of a soy-garlic sauce in three spice levels (nonspicy, spicy and "poison"), on a plate or a toasted/steamed whole-wheat bun. (A gluten-based vegetarian "chicken" and lightly fried vegetables, tofu and wood-ear fungi are available for vegetarians.)
The other half of the name reflects the thin "hay" fries. House-made pickled daikon, cucumbers and carrots, deep-fried mini-buns and gizzards are also available as side items. As at Three Fold, the beverage list will include fountain-dispensed soft drinks and iced tea, hot tea, Mountain Valley bottled water, bubble tea and draft and bottled beer.
Owner Lisa Zhang has signed a one-year lease on the space, with an option for a second year; if the concept becomes popular and profitable, it can be made permanent, either at that location or a new one. Hours are the same as Three Fold's: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 500-1080.
Speaking of fried chicken, several folks, including some who live or work nearby, tell us that what's coming to the former Pizza Hut at 4704 Camp Robinson Road, North Little Rock, is an outlet of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. Danny Gilliland of franchisee Sweet "P" Enterprises says the target to open is mid- to late June.
And still speaking of fried chicken, we've uncovered an encouraging piece of news regarding Ceci's Chicken N Waffles, which recently closed at 1600 Dave Ward Drive, Conway. This posting appeared May 11 on the Facebook page, facebook.com/pg/cecischickennwaffles: "I miss y'all can't wait till June." Owner Ciceley McDowell promised in response to a fan's query that she'd announce the new location and opening date by May 12, but that information hadn't yet appeared by our deadline, and the restaurant phone number, (501) 358-6944, now produces only a rapid busy signal, signaling that it is not currently in service. You'll recall that McDowell posted a video Oct. 10 on Facebook that she was planning to open either a second location in or a total move to Little Rock sometime this year. You'll recall she uprooted and moved the original restaurant from 324 E. 13th St., North Little Rock, to Conway about two years ago.
And speaking of Conway, Arkansas' first Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar outlet will open in that town, not downtown Little Rock, as was the original speculation — fueled by a "coming soon" notice on the chain's website, walk-ons.com. It'll be on approximately two acres of land at Conway's Lewis Ranch, South Amity Road and East Dave Ward Drive, according to real estate broker Colliers International Arkansas, which negotiated the land sale for $1.36 million. It'll be approximately 8,400 square feet; ground-breaking is scheduled within 30 days and there's a projected opening target of February 2020. The Cajun-theme restaurant/sports bar chain/franchiser is co-owned by New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees and headquartered in Baton Rouge. The Arkansas franchisee, Chris McJunkins, owner of three Louisiana Walk-On's locations (in Shreveport, Bossier City and West Monroe), described it in a 2017 news release announcing the "Area Development Agreement" he signed with Walk-On's as offering "incredible Louisiana-style food, our wide array of cocktails and craft beers, the family-friendly sports atmosphere and our commitment to outstanding customer service." The chain has 17 locations, eight in Texas, one each in Alabama and Mississippi and pending locations in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Florida and North Carolina. Use the website (walk-ons.com/food) to check out the menu, (the appetizers list includes something called "Devils on Horseback," jumbo Gulf shrimp stuffed with cream cheese and pickled jalapenos, wrapped in bacon and lightly fried, with a side of sweet chile glaze).
We don't yet have an actual target date for the opening of El Mezcal, going into the former Afterthought Bistro & Bar, 2721 Kavanaugh Blvd., in Little Rock's Hillcrest, but one of the workmen on the project said Tuesday they're "pretty close." The covering has come off the windows and a peep into the interior reveals there are tables and chairs, though not yet set up in any particular array, and at least some of the kitchen and dining room equipment (including the Coca-Cola soft drink dispenser) is in place. You will recall it's a project from the Valadez family, which operates central Arkansas' four Cantina Cinco de Mayo restaurants; when they announced the restaurant several months ago, partners Ramiro Valadez and Vicente Hernandez pledged high-quality service and an upscale Mexican menu, along with a cocktail program focusing heavily on the agave-based Mexican liquor that is the restaurant's namesake.
South Boulevard, 10840 Maumelle Blvd., North Little Rock, had its grand opening May 13. The space, next to Morningside Bagel, formerly housed GiGi's Soul Food Cafe and Lounge and Nashville Bar and Grill. (Owner Jermaine Burton also owns Lucky's Sports Bar & Grill, 1101 Murphy Drive, Maumelle.) The fusion menu includes steaks, sandwiches, salads, seafood and Korean barbecue wings and bulgogi. Current hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (501) 414-8870; the Facebook page: facebook.com/South-Boulevard-400867444061333.
Teaberry Kombucha Co. opens the doors to its new kombucha tap room, 9821 W. Markham St., Little Rock (in the same shopping center as an Andy's and Fuller & Son hardware), 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday. Kombucha, if you're not yet familiar with it, is a slightly fizzy beverage made with tea and a starter culture of bacteria and yeast that convert sugar into organic acids and probiotics. On-tap blends will include Blueberry Pomegranate, Ginger Peach, Raspberry Hibiscus, Lemon Rooibos, Mojo Mint and Yerba Mate; as they become available the shop will add juices from locally sourced produce. Hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Teaberry products have heretofore been available on a retail basis or on tap at the Green Corner Store, The Root Cafe, Loblolly Creamery, Abbi's Teas and Things, Drug Emporium, the Bramble Market, Stratton's Market and the Meteor Cafe in Little Rock; Me and McGee Market in North Little Rock; Olde Crow General Store in Benton; and Prestonrose Farm and Brewing Co. in Paris. Call (501) 492-6526 or visit teaberrykombucha.com.
Groundbreaking is imminent for the Power+Ice Food Hall in downtown North Little Rock's Argenta Plaza, in the 500 block of Main Street, with a projected opening in spring 2020. According to the website, powerandice.com, it'll be "a launch pad for six restaurant concepts offering a wide range of variety and quality cuisines focused on authenticity and freshness. The upscale eatery will showcase the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of an array of cuisines made in open kitchens where the art of cooking is on display. The open air hub owns/manages the bar and beverage offerings allowing the restaurateurs/chef partners to focus solely on their 5-10 item menu, eliminating the burden of running an entire restaurant, thus reducing the cost of entry." They're currently taking applications via email — email@example.com — for "all types of independent operators, local chef-driven concepts, local restaurateurs looking to expand their brand, food truck operators wanting restaurant space and caterers looking to expand their operations," as well as "experienced bartenders, bussers and managers." Submit your name and phone number, your plan, specific stall concepts, design inspirations and a 5-10 item menu with pricing. "We will be in touch soon thereafter!"
And more than a dozen Arkansas culinary luminaries — chefs, sommeliers and mixologists — are representing the state at the ninth annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, May 30-June 2 at the Loews Atlanta Hotel (with Tasting Tents in historic Old Fourth Ward Park). From Little Rock, Mark Abernathy of Loca Luna and Red Door, Jack Sundell of The Root Cafe, Jonathan Boney of Three Fold, Brett Bassett of De Nux Distributors, Ben Bell of SakeBrewer and Lynn Darnell of Rock Town Distillery. From Bentonville, Rob Nelson of Tusk and Trotter and Butcher & Pint, Matthew Cooper of The Preacher's Son, Jaquintin Means of Bike Rack Brewing Co. and Anna Russell of The Buttered Biscuit. And from Wilson, Shari' Haley of Wilson Cafe. The festival features a full roster of classes, dinners and events. A full lineup and schedule is available at atlfoodandwinefestival.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 05/23/2019