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RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: Soul food taking over Little Rock poke space; dogs, daiquiris set for Center Street store

by Eric E. Harrison | July 22, 2021 at 6:52 a.m.
The storefront at 220 W. Sixth St., Little Rock, where Fat Jaws Soul Food and Southern Eats is headed, still shows a sign for Ohia Poke and a much older logo on the side for Lulav, the first restauraant to occupy the space. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison)

William Watkins is opening Fat Jaws Soul Food and Southern Eats, 220 W. Sixth St., Little Rock, in the space most recently occupied by Ohia Poke, possibly best known as the location of several incarnations of Lulav (a version of the Lulav logo still abides on the building's eastern wall) but also the second-floor Power Ultra Lounge. (A June 30, 2017, shootout there that injured 28 people also forced the closure of the first-floor The Veg LLC.)

Watkins is targeting his grand opening for October, but expects to be doing some test-kitchen catering as early as late August. He'll serve what he calls "soul food for the sophisticated palate" lunch and dinner Wednesday-Friday, with brunch and dinner on Saturday and brunch on Sunday, sit-down, pickup and delivery, as well as catering and service for small events. He'll be applying for an alcoholic beverage license so he can offer wine, beer and a few cocktails.

Watkins says he worked as a caterer in Dallas for 18 years; before that, he was a police officer. He credits his grandmother for training him as a cook and providing the recipes.

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We reported a few weeks ago that several eagle-eyed readers have been spotting work taking place at the defunct Franke's Cafeteria in the Market Place Shopping Center, 11121 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, and that the "for lease" sign that has been on the side of the building since July is now gone. Now another eagle-eyed reader reports seeing a Homer's West truck outside, dovetailing with as-yet-unconfirmed reports that the home-cooking restaurant is planning a move up the street from the Galleria Shopping Center, 9700 N. Rodney Parham. A Homer's West manager denied last week that any move was in the offing. Interestingly enough, for whatever it's worth, the current address does not appear on Homer's West's website ( or Facebook page ( — just "Little Rock, AR." The restaurant phone number is (501) 224-6637.

Lea’s Gourmet Dogs & Daiquiris is poised to open as early as Friday at 215 Center St., Little Rock. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison)
Lea’s Gourmet Dogs & Daiquiris is poised to open as early as Friday at 215 Center St., Little Rock. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison)

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", could open as early as Friday — one contingency is whether their mixed-drink permit came through on Wednesday — offering hot dogs, vegan dogs, nachos, frito chili pie and daiquiris. A little snooping around Facebook turned up a food truck called Lea-Lea's Gourmet Dogs; we're still trying to confirm if there's a connection or just a coincidence. (By the way, there's an accent over the "e" in Lea, so we're guessing it could be pronounced the same way as the princess Carrie Fisher played in "Star Wars.") Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday. The phone number listed on the door is (501) 615-8878.

Flint Flenoy reports he's backtracking on his plans to turn his Flint's Just Like Mom's, in the Union Plaza Building, 124 W. Capitol Ave., Little Rock, into Flint's Southern Fried Chicken, and instead is subletting the space to Cotija's Mexican Grill, which has been operating across the street at 406 Louisiana St. since 2005. Flenoy says, and Cotija's manager Leonardo Alvarez confirms, the target date to open in the new space is on or about Aug. 1. Flenoy and Alvarez say it's a win-win situation — Flenoy says he gets to stop dividing his time three ways and will get to concentrate on his two other operations — Flint's at the Regions on the ground floor of the Regions Building, 400 W. Capitol Ave., Little Rock, and Flint's at the Flight Deck in the Central Flying Service flight training facility, 2301 Crisp Drive, Little Rock, where he says business has been booming. And Alvarez says he's happy to be moving out of an old building with problems. (The Alvarez family, by the way, also operates La Hacienda.) Cotija's phone number is (501) 244-0733; the website is

Hubcap Burger Co., 7410 Cantrell Road, shut down last week, with a sign on the door — "A truck hit the vent fan and we cannot cook" — echoing this July 15 Facebook post ( "Well folks, I know it is hard to believe but we are closed until we get a new vent fan. A truck accidentally hit ours today and we cannot turn on any cooking equipment without a functioning fan. Hopefully, it won't take longer than a week ... fingers crossed." There's also a similar message on the voicemail at the phone number, (501) 353-0130. Hubcap had not reopened by Wednesday morning.

And speaking of signs on doors, the one at Milano's Italian Grill, 1800 Club Manor Drive, Maumelle, also reinforces a Facebook post ( "[W]e will be temporarily closing from June 28 to July 28 to attend a family event." There's a slight confusion as to just when service will resume — Wednesday, as per the Facebook page, or, as per the sign, July 29. The phone number is (501) 734-8027.

Speaking of the best-laid plans that have gone astray, we reported a few weeks ago that restaurateur Ira Mittelman (Ira's on Main Street, now Allsopp & Chapple, and Ira's Park Hill Grill in North Little Rock, now North Bar) had been poised to open a restaurant called Fork at the Holiday Inn, 10920 Financial Centre Parkway, Little Rock. Apparently those plans never came to fruition; the restaurant, we're told, opened briefly and then closed again, and a hotel representative tells us he does not expect the restaurant to "go forward" at this time. Mittelman won't discuss the situation on the record. The hotel phone number is (501) 225-1075.

The Paranoid Android, the new coffee shop in the Little Rock Technology Park, 417 Main St., formerly Blue Sail, soft-opened — if that's an actual word — on Monday, a week behind schedule, but has hit a stumbling block, says Little Rock entrepreneur Creighton Ralls: "We have had persistent hardware delivery and fulfilment issues. As of today [Tuesday] we are going to close until we have all of our equipment delivered and installed, so we can serve our full menu experience to our new customers." He's looking at a "reboot" date for the middle of next week. Ralls' company, Cleopatra, also operates 2Twenty1 at Second and Center streets and Cleo's Corner, located inside the Arkansas Department of Commerce, 1 Commerce Way in Little Rock's Riverdale. Once it gets up and running, the shop will serve coffee and coffee-based drinks, light breakfast and lunch options and pastries, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday. We are still awaiting a telephone number; the website is

The newly formed Third Street Entertainment District, located south of the River Market Entertainment District, Second Street, Fourth Street and from Cumberland Street to River Market Avenue, is now up and running. Patrons of bars and restaurants including Copper Grill, Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro, Dugan's Pub, Lucky Lou's and the Hilton Garden Inn of legal drinking age can take open-container drinks out of one place, outdoors anywhere within the district boundaries, and into other establishments within the district. Drinks, of course, must be in special entertainment district-approved cups, and patrons must wear wristbands to show they are of legal drinking age.

Aaron Fowler of Cypress Social is the featured chef for the third dinner in Historic Arkansas Museum's 2021 "History Is Served: Arkansas Foodways Dinner Series," 4-9 p.m. Aug. 19. The focus is on corn, in keeping with the series theme of iconic foods of Arkansas and because corn is the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame's 2021 Arkansas Food of the Year. Guests will pick up their dinners curbside, 4-6 p.m. at museum, 200 E. Third St., Little Rock, and join a special Zoom program. Series tickets — which also include the Oct. 21 series finale, focusing on the apple, with Jonathan Arrington and Jack Sundell of The Root Cafe — are $60, $50 for museum members. Visit For more information, call (501) 324-9351 or visit

As it was in 2020, it'll be online ordering and drive- thru pickup only for the 2021 International Greek Food Festival, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 1-2 at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 1100 Napa Valley Drive, Little Rock. The bill of fare will feature gyros, pastitsio, spanakopita, Greek meatballs, falafel, hummus and baklava and a range of other pastries and sweets. You'll be able to place orders two weeks in advance. Proceeds, as always, will benefit a range of area charities and nonprofits. Visit the website,; the church's phone number is (501) 221-5300.

And for Rock City Burger Week, Aug. 23-29, participating restaurants in Little Rock and North Little Rock will offer special $7 burgers; customers can print out a "burger passport" and get a stamp showing the places where they've chowed down. A random drawing of submitted passports (with a minimum of four restaurants) will produce a winner who will receive the Ultimate Burger Cookout for 25 friends, including all the fixings, from the Arkansas Beef Council and Arkansas cattle farmers (through the $1 per head Beef Checkoff established as part of the 1985 farm bill), the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Ben E. Keith Foods. Meanwhile, the Beef Council will donate to the Arkansas Food Bank $1 each for the first 1,000 burgers sold.

Participating Little Rock and North Little Rock burger-vending establishments include Buffalo Grill, Alley Oops, Big Whiskey's, Hill Station, David's Burgers, Excaliburger, Hubcap Burger Co., The Box, Bennett's Casual Dining by Keith & Co., Rosie's Pot & Kettle, Midtown Billiards, The Town Pump, Homer's East, Brood & Barley, Flyway Brewery, Cypress Social, Petit & Keet, Loca Luna, Red Door, the west Little Rock Corky's, Diamond Bear Brewery and Skinny J's. For more information and to download a passport,

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:


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