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RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: Samantha's has new chef in its kitchen; chicken salad chain building North Little Rock outlet

by Eric E. Harrison | August 12, 2021 at 7:04 a.m.
Samantha’s Tap Room & Wood Grill on Little Rock’s Main Street has hired Jimmy Carter as its new executive chef. (Democrat-Gazette file photo/Eric E. Harrison)

Jimmy Carter, whose kitchen credits include Cajun's Wharf and several Arkansas country clubs, started work Monday as the new executive chef at Samantha's Tap Room & Wood Grill, 322 Main St., Little Rock. Carter is also a former Diamond Chef finalist, losing out to Capers' Mary Beth Ringgold in 2017's competition. He says he has been brought on board primarily to create daily specials and will head up Samantha's catering department; he's not making any significant changes to the existing menu or the kitchen operation — "It's a well-oiled machine. They have pride in what they do and they care. That's awesome."

Coming to the parking lot of The Other Center (near the Target) where McCain Boulevard meets U.S. 67/167: Central Arkansas' second outlet of Chicken Salad Chick. It isn't yet on the chain's website (chickensaladchick.com); the helpful folks at the North Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau unearthed the information from the Facebook page of the other outlet at 20370 Interstate 30 North, Benton.

Cypress Social, 7103 Cock of the Walk Lane, North Little Rock, is marking its first birthday Wednesday-Aug. 21 with specials, including a 16-ounce ribeye with "Complimentary Birthday Cake for the table" and "$5 Bites All Night" (Cypress Burger Sliders, Peppadew Cheese and Arancini Balls), plus some $5 bar specials. Call (501) 916-2670 or visit cypresssocial.com.

Cypress Social, off Maumelle Boulevard in North Little Rock, is marking its first birthday with food and drink specials. (Democrat-Gazette file photo/Eric E. Harrison)
Cypress Social, off Maumelle Boulevard in North Little Rock, is marking its first birthday with food and drink specials. (Democrat-Gazette file photo/Eric E. Harrison)

Nearby, The Hangout Grill & Bar, 10840 Maumelle Blvd., North Little Rock, has closed as of July 31, and apparently its Facebook page has been taken down. (A search for Hangout Bar and Grill pages turned up places with the same or a similar name in Jacksonville, Ill., and in San Jose, the Philippines, but not North Little Rock.)

Owner-operator Devin Marcel says there's now a "realistic" Sept. 15 target to open The Original Hot Dog Factory, in progress at 1424 Main St., Little Rock, Central Arkansas' first outlet of an Atlanta-based franchise/chain operation. Aug. 2 "now hiring" postings on the Facebook page (facebook.com/hotdogfactorylittlerock) seek a general manager and two assistant managers (aka shift leaders). Hours will be 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 am.-midnight Friday-Sunday. Visit theoriginalhotdogfactory.com.

And speaking of hot dogs, Lea's Gourmet Dogs & Daiquiris, 215 Center St., Little Rock, in what had previously been Your Mama's Good Food, the original location of Three Fold Noodles & Dumpling Co., Hanaroo and Three Fold's temporary Haybird Chicken "pop-up," has pared back its hours — now 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 1-9 p.m. Saturday. The phone number is (501) 615-8878.

Business reporter Noel Oman, who monitors Little Rock construction permits, turned these two up from the most recent list: $750,000 for "New shell building for upcoming Starbucks store. Ground-up building and site work" at 13820 David O. Dodd Drive, and "David Burgers tenant finish out," a 3,300-square-foot building at 11915 Interstate 30, value: $450,000.

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As cases of covid-19 continue to climb in Arkansas, some restaurants have been making adjustments. For example, Jerry Barakat, owner of adjoining Arthur's Prime Steakhouse and Oceans at Arthur's in the 16000 block of Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, says his restaurants are once again requiring all patrons to wear masks. "We took every measure possible and available during the pandemic to keep our friends, customers and staff as safe, healthy and protected as best as anywhere in the nation," Barakat says via social media. "We intend to keep it this way."

And along Cantrell Road, Trio's owner/chef Capi Peck posted this last week on Facebook: "We are masked up and vaxxed up. We require our customers to wear masks as they enter & move around the restaurant. We have removed tables & chairs to create more distance in the dining room. Over a year ago we invested in a virus-killing cold plasma filtration system. We are seeing a big uptick in takeout, and we are doing our best to provide curbside delivery when requested to do so."

While owner/chef Mark Abernathy has put a mask policy in place for Loca Luna and Red Door: "We hate this, but because so many Arkansans still refuse to help us and our industry (and our state) by getting vaccinated, we are asking that our customers all wear a mask when they enter and until they get settled at a table. Our staff is vaccinated but we will continue to wear masks even though it is very uncomfortable and inconvenient. This also makes it harder for restaurants to attract and hire the employees we need to operate."

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Citing high beef prices, Petit & Keet has withdrawn from the list of Central Arkansas restaurants participating in Rock City Burger Week, Aug. 23-29. We reported previously that Excaliburger owner/founder Kyle Pounders is involved in a World Central Kitchen project in Louisiana and that we doubted he'd be back in time to take part.

Stone's Throw Stifft Station, 3015 W. Markham St., Little Rock, hosts "Jurassic Park Trivia" at 6:30 p.m. today, with Stone's Throw gift certificates as prizes. Teams can have up to six people and the taproom welcomes reservations — call (501) 379-8663.

Firehouse Subs' first Springdale outlet, 4914-1 Elms Springs Road, opened Monday, also the first Arkansas outlet with the chain's new Community Design layout, which, according to a news release, "features a repositioned ordering area, a designated space for Rapid Rescue To Go orders and a new back-of-the-house layout with a more efficient flow for crew members."

Escolar is part of this sashimi plate — the white-fleshed fish just “north” of the lemon slices. Democrat-Gazette file photo/Eric E. Harrison)
Escolar is part of this sashimi plate — the white-fleshed fish just “north” of the lemon slices. Democrat-Gazette file photo/Eric E. Harrison)

A late June Health Department inspection of a local seafood-sushi restaurant that shall remain nameless required it to make a change in the menu to reflect that one of their food items "must be labeled as a common name. According to manufacturing package the content is Escolar. Person in charge will change the name on the menu." Escolar, a white-fleshed fish, is frequently listed on sushi menus as "white tuna" or "superwhite tuna."

And the weekly advertising mailer that showed up in our mailbox last week included a promotional first-order discount offer from food service delivery company Doordash, on which it was noted that the service was "proud to partner with local and national restaurants," including The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, Tender Shack (Dang Good Chicken) and Qdoba Mexican Eats. Except ... none of those chains has a Central Arkansas outlet. Qdoba has restaurants in Fayetteville, Rogers and Jonesboro; the closest Cheesecake Factory is in Memphis. According to its website, Shake Shack has no Arkansas outlets at all; we're not sure which is closer — St. Louis, Kansas City or New Orleans. And Tender Shack, apparently, is available as delivery-only-by-Doordash, but attempting to order from several Little Rock, Fayetteville and Hot Springs locations all resulted in this message: "Tender Shack doesn't deliver to your address currently."

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. Send email to: eharrison@adgnewsroom.com

Print Headline: RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: Samantha's has new chef in its kitchen; chicken salad chain building outlet

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