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Count Porkula, JTJ partner for planned Heights location

by Eric E. Harrison | June 7, 2021 at 3:30 p.m.
Quarter rack of ribs at Count Porkula. The barbecue restaurant in the Rail Yard is planning a second location on Keightly Drive in Little Rock’s Pulaski Heights in partnership with JTJ Restaurants. (Democrat-Gazette file photo/Eric E. Harrison)

Count Porkula BBQ, which operates a restaurant in the Rail Yard, 1212 E. 6th St. in Little Rock’s East Village, is partnering with JTJ Restaurants, LLC to open its first stand-alone location in early 2022.

It’ll be at 201 Keightly Drive in Little Rock’s Pulaski Heights, the site of the Ozark Country Restaurant, which permanently closed following a 2018 fire.

The new 2,900 square-foot restaurant will feature indoor and outdoor seating, a full bar, curbside, to-go, and online ordering. Count Porkula’s menu features pulled-pork nachos, brisket and ribs. The "original" restaurant will continue to operate in the Rail Yard.

JTJ — James, Tommy and Jake Keet — operates eight Arkansas Taziki’s restaurants and, in Central Arkansas, Petit & Keet and Cypress Social. The partnership also involves Michael Bodnar of Fresh Hospitality, the parent company of Taziki’s, and Mark Waldo of Waldo’s Chicken & Beer, with whom JTJ is partnering in expanding that chain’s operations into Arkansas and Oklahoma, starting with a restaurant in the former Johnny Carino's, 4221 Warden Road, North Little Rock.

“The entire team at JTJ has been great to work with and their experience in the food industry has opened our eyes to new processes and procedures in our current spot at The Rail Yard and our new Keightly location,” Walt Todd, Count Porkula co-owner (with Kelly Lovell), said in a news release. “The new central location is going to allow us to bring west Little Rock, Heights and Hillcrest, and various other locations together for a BBQ experience like no other.”

“We are honored and excited to be partnering with Kelly and Walt to help expand their business and complete their dream to have a stand-alone BBQ joint,” said JTJ President Tommy Keet.

Lovell and Todd started Count Porkula in 2008 as a food truck and moved into its brick-and-mortar space in the Rail Yard in 2018. Its website is countporkulabbq.com.

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