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Little Rock's White Water Tavern to reopen Aug. 6

New owners plan entertainment lineup, return of full-time kitchen by Eric E. Harrison | July 22, 2021 at 1:51 p.m.
The White Water Tavern, closed for months because of covid-19, reopens Aug. 6 with new owners and a full-time kitchen. (Democrat-Gazette file photo/Cary Jenkins)

Little Rock’s venerable White Water Tavern, West Seventh and Thayer streets, is officially reopening at 4 p.m. Aug. 6 with new owners — Travis Hill & Natalee Miller.

The club received its mixed-drink license from the state Alcohol Beverage Control Division on Wednesday, Hill said, "and now feel fully confident that we’re ready to move forward promoting the grand reopening."

Former owner Matt White will continue to manage the White Water’s live entertainment. The opening weekend schedule:

• Aug. 6: Brent Best (Slobberbone) and Patrick Sweany, 9 p.m.

• Aug. 7: Amy Garland Band and Salty Dogs, 9 p.m.

• Aug. 8: Blues House Party Sunday Jam featuring Garry Burnside, 5 p.m. White Water plans a monthly first-Sunday blues show in conjunction with radio station KABF-FM.

The White Water will once again prepare and serve food from its own kitchen, Hill said. Shane Clinton will head up a full-time kitchen staff with expanded hours — the hours the club will be open, 4 p.m.-midnight Tuesday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday, 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday and 4-9 p.m. Sunday.

“For the past 15 years we pretty much outsourced that,” Hill said.

Clinton’s menu is still in the works, but it is likely to feature what Hill called “the classic White Water burger,” fries, a grilled cheese sandwich, a vegetarian option and specials that could include catfish and pulled pork.

"We want to let people know that even though the WWT has new owners, we aren’t changing the WWT vibe,” Hill said. “We see ourselves as custodians of the legacy.”

Hill said in addition to buying the White Water itself, he and his partner bought “all the land behind the White Water as well as the parking lot across the street,” which the former owners had rented, “to make sure that we didn’t have to worry about development to ensure the longevity” of the club.

In the spring, he said, he’s planning to apply for a re-zoning to expand the rear beer garden. The Saturday farmer’s market will move to the green space at the rear of the property.

Hill, whose day job has been as an IT manager at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, has been booking bands at the White Water for the past dozen years. He previously worked at public radio stations KUAR-FM and KLRE-FM.

Hill sees the move as saving the club, which officially opened in 1977, from total destruction.

“Covid had shut them down for so long, other investors wanted to buy it and tear it down and build houses,” he said.

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