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RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: Big Bad Breakfast planned for early 2022 Little Rock debut; Whole Hog's North Little Rock move complete

by Eric E. Harrison | October 7, 2021 at 1:38 a.m.
Ben Brainard, co-owner/operator of the incoming Big Bad Breakfast (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Cary Jenkins)

Little Rock is soon to get a Big Bad Breakfast.

Co-owner/operator Ben Brainard is withholding the target opening date, but he says it'll be sometime in early 2022, in the former Arvest Bank building at West Markham Street and Bowman Road, behind David's Burgers.

Brainard, who says he's been working on this since he left Yellow Rocket Concepts a year ago, says that he wasn't really ready to supply details, but admits that it wasn't possible to entirely sit on things. "This has been the worst-kept secret in Arkansas," he says.

According to its website,, the Birmingham, Ala.-based chain has existing outlets in Oxford, Miss.; Greystone, Homewood and Florence, Ala.; Inlet Beach, Fla.; Charleston, S.C.; and Nashville and Franklin, Tenn. And it's expanding rapidly through several states, including Tennessee, where a corporate-owned restaurant opened this week in Memphis, and another outlet resides in Chattanooga. The website notes outlets are coming soon to Louisville, Ky., and Mobile, Ala.

There's also a connection with Nashville-based Fresh Hospitality, with which North Little Rock-based JTJ Restaurants partners on Arkansas Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe outlets; Waldo's Chicken & Beer, which has an outlet under construction in North Little Rock; and the advancing expansion of Count Porkula BBQ, on which we reported last week.

Brainard says the Keets are minority partners with him and co-owner Brandon Finch. ("We have a little piece," confirms JTJ paterfamilias Jim Keet.) Brainard says there are plans to add additional Arkansas locations down the line.

James Beard Award-winning chef John Currence, who created the Big Bad Breakfast concept, shepherds new outlets as they come forth. To that end, Brainard says, the menu initially will hew closely to Currence's BBB greatest hits. A check of one such menu starts with specialty omelets: "Creole," with crawfish, andouille sausage, tomatoes and cheddar cheese, topped with tomato gravy and scallions; "Cahaba Lily," with seasonal herbs, tomatoes, shallots and Swiss cheese; and "The Hospitable," with "anything you want on the menu, stuffed into an omelet."

Also on the menu: scrambled-egg skillets plus pancakes, French toast, waffles and biscuits and gravy. The full menu is also available for lunch and dinner. "You can have fried chicken for breakfast, fried eggs for lunch or burgers for both," according to the website.

And presuming that Brainard applies for an alcoholic beverage license, "We make the best bloody Mary in town from scratch, our mimosas and screwdrivers are made with fresh squeezed juice, and our Irish Coffee is modeled after the original recipe served famously at The Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco."

The Whole Hog Cafe that used to be at 5107 Warden Road, North Little Rock, opened quietly over the weekend in the former Applebee's, 4333 Warden Road, North Little Rock. Among the advantages of the new location: It's freestanding (the old one is in a strip center), with more space (including additional outdoor seating in a large covered and heat-able patio) and plenty of parking. Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Phone: (501) 753-9227.

Apparently on the cusp of opening: Camp Taco, the latest project from Yellow Rocket Concepts, 822 E. Sixth St. in Little Rock's East Village (previously Sixth Street Brewing Co. and before that, Rebel Kettle). Yellow Rocket creative director and brand manager Amber Brewer said last week that staffing problems are holding up an opening date, operating hours and a phone number. An Oct. 2 post on the Facebook page,, was a plea for "a few good people in key positions. We're currently looking to fill open spots on our kitchen team, hosting staff, and front-of-house service." The website,, has described Camp Taco as "[a] new small-batch brewery project from the team at Lost Forty Brewing ... a place for play, snacks, live music and experiences to rival your best summer camp memories — with the addition of beer and tequila." There will be entertainment on a big outdoor stage.

Charlee's Good Time Drinkery, which had been located inside the Prospect Building, 1501 N. University Ave., Little Rock, is moving into the former Damgoode Pies River Market location, 500 President Clinton Ave., in mid-November. Food blog The Mighty Rib says to expect an expanded menu, TVs, a stage for music and a possible weekend brunch. The club is having to shed its open-until-5 a.m. license, which it inherited from the now-defunct Local Union, to make the move. No one answered the listed phone number, (501) 904-1127; the University Avenue space has been pretty much gutted.

A new convenience store, an EC's Quickstop, has opened at 3310 E. Kiehl Ave., Sherwood, but the reason you're seeing it in this column is the wide variety of prepared foods it offers, including a half-dozen breakfast items, wings, catfish, appetizers, nachos, sandwiches, salads, shrimp, frog legs, burgers and desserts, all of which you can order online. Hours are 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. Phone: (501) 819-6116;

Rain forced the postponement of the Seis Puentes Education and Resource Center's Hispanic Heritage Month Art and Food Festival to 11 a.m.-2 p.m. this Saturday at Argenta Plaza, 510 Main St., North Little Rock, with food trucks, art vendors and performances by Ballet Quetzalli, Oscar Gomez, Mariachi Arrieros and DJ Miguel Gomez (live entertainment is sponsored by the North Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau). Admission is free. The Facebook event page,, has been updated.

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Nominations are open through Oct. 31 for the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism's 2022 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame, honoring the state's culinary heritage. Department Secretary Stacy Hurst reports that the department received more than 2,000 nominations representing all 75 counties for the 2020 honors, in five categories:

◼️ Arkansas Food Hall of Fame, recognizing long-standing restaurants "that have become legendary"

◼️ Proprietor of the Year, honoring a chef, cook and/or restaurant owner who has had "significant impact on the food industry"

◼️ Food-Themed Event, honoring a community food-themed event or festival

◼️ Gone But Not Forgotten, remembering past establishments

◼️ People's Choice; restaurants or food trucks, new or old, are eligible.

A committee of historians, chefs, foodies and food authors that will choose the winners — to be announced in a special ceremony in 2022 — includes Paul S. Austin, Chip Culpepper, Quantia "Key" Fletcher, Cindy Grisham, Montine McNulty, Rex Nelson, Tim Nutt, Kat Robinson, Stephanie Wade, David Ware and Stanley Young.

Make nominations online at For more information, call (501) 324-9788 or email

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McDonald's is bringing back the McRib on Nov. 1, marking the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the sandwich, a seasoned boneless pork patty slathered in barbecue sauce, then topped with slivered onions and dill pickle slices on a homestyle bun. It'll be available, as always, for a limited time at participating restaurants.

Firehouse Subs is adding a BBQ Cuban Sub to its offerings.

(Special to the Democrat-Gazette)
Firehouse Subs is adding a BBQ Cuban Sub to its offerings. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

And Firehouse Subs is introducing a BBQ Cuban Sub, featuring slow-smoked pulled pork, Virginia honey ham, melted Swiss, a sweet-and-smoky chipotle slaw, spicy pickle chips, mayonnaise and a sweet mustard barbecue sauce on a toasted sub roll. Find a location at

Stone's Throw Stifft Station Taproom, 3015 W. Markham St., Little Rock, which holds themed trivia competitions on the second Thursday of the month, is focusing on "Star Trek," 6:30 p.m. Oct. 14, with dinner provided by the La Casa de mi Abuelita food truck. Phone: (501) 379-8663.

On Sept. 27, North Little Rock Texas Roadhouse butcher Bryan Delgado won the preliminary round of the Qualifier Meat Cutting Challenge, beating out 10 butchers from the chain in Arkansas and surrounding states — Little Rock, Benton, North Little Rock, Texarkana; Tyler, Texas; and Joplin, Mo. — at the Arkansas Skatium in west Little Rock. In that first round, each participant received 30-40 pounds of beef, consisting of one sirloin, one filet and one ribeye to cut, judged on quality, yield, and speed. Delgado advances to the semifinals in February in Nashville, Tenn. Winner of the national competition gets a grand prize of $20,000 and the title of Meat Cutter of the Year.

And the Hillcrest Residents Association will hold its Hillcrest Neighborhood Pancake Breakfast, 9-11 a.m. Oct. 30 at Pulaski Heights Baptist Church, 2200 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, preceding the Hillcrest HarvestFest. Cost is $5, $15 per family. Visit; HarvestFest information is available at

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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