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RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: Brave New Restaurant namesake adds executive chef; kBird goes on indefinite 'hiatus'

by Eric E. Harrison | October 28, 2021 at 6:46 a.m.
Anthony Tally, now executive chef at Brave New Restaurant, was in charge of the kitchens at Harding University in 2018. (Democrat-Gazette file photo)

Peter Brave continues as owner of his eponymous Brave New Restaurant, 2300 Cottondale Lane, in Little Rock's Riverdale. And you'll still find him in the kitchen just about every night, though he has handed over the title of executive chef to Anthony Tally, former executive chef at Baptist Health Medical Center and Harding University.

"He is my new executive chef, but I'm still chef-ing," Brave explains. "I didn't want to give the impression that I'm going anywhere. I'm still in the kitchen, frying fish.

"I've had executive chefs before; the last left about six months ago," he says. "I wanted to have my hands on ordering and preparing, and I showed 'em I could still do it, but it's important not to be burdened all the way."

Tally says he found himself overwhelmed running the Baptist Health kitchen during the covid pandemic, and he'd been looking for a new gig after taking a few months to put himself back together.

Brave, he says, brought him in for an interview on the restaurant's back deck; it took a total of eight minutes for Brave to hire him. He has been there since Oct. 19 and considers his new job, in a kitchen where he has roots, a "blessing."

"He worked for me washing dishes at my original location" — a former Steak & Egg Kitchen at Cantrell and Old Cantrell roads, now the site of Mark Abernathy's Red Door, Brave recalls. "He grew up and became an outstanding young man."

During that process, Tally says, he worked with Denis Seyer and Billy Ginocchio, among other area chefs, whose influences he says you may see in some of his dishes going forward.

Tally's initial purview, Brave says, will focus on soups and specials; the latter, Tally notes, have sold well, particularly a venison dish he poached in seared pear with a red wine gastrique that garnered more than 50 orders in just a few days' time.

He's not planning any major menu alterations — Brave's menu, though it has slimmed down during the pandemic, consists of a lot of basic customer favorites of three decades or more that can't really be changed, including the walleye — but he's looking at maybe adding some "flair" here and there.

Brave New hours are 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 5-9 p.m. Saturday. The phone number is (501) 663-2677; the website, bravenewrestaurant.com.

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Richard Glasgow, owner/chef of Thai restaurant kBird, 600 N. Tyler St. in Little Rock's "lower Hillcrest," posted Tuesday on Facebook (facebook.com/kBird-119010881547395) that his restaurant is "going on indefinite hiatus, effective immediately," explaining that "I am going into my hibernaculum [a place where a creature seeks refuge] until communal dining, and strangers sharing tables, are no longer sources of discomfort. This is not a 'goodbye,' rather a 'see you later.'" The same message appears on the restaurant's website, kbirdlr.com. Glasgow reopened the restaurant in April after several months of restructuring with a new business model, involving serving communal meals on Wednesday and Thursday nights and offering prepackaged dishes online.

Nach’yo Nachos is one of three food trucks the Little Rock Downtown Partnership is gathering for Food Truck Thursday at the Centennial Bank Commerce Center on Rebsamen Park Road in Little Rock’s Riverdale. (Democrat-Gazette file photo/Eric E. Harrison)
Nach’yo Nachos is one of three food trucks the Little Rock Downtown Partnership is gathering for Food Truck Thursday at the Centennial Bank Commerce Center on Rebsamen Park Road in Little Rock’s Riverdale. (Democrat-Gazette file photo/Eric E. Harrison)

The Little Rock Downtown Partnership is putting together another Food Truck Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. today at the Centennial Bank Commerce Center, 1301 Rebsamen Park Road, in Little Rock's Riverdale. The three food trucks taking part: Nach'yo Nachos, Cheesecake on Point and The Cajun Trouxth.

We reported the temporary closure of The Helena Tavern, 233 Cherry St., Helena-West Helena, after owner John Cleary was struck by a car Oct. 7 and hospitalized. Since then, nobody has answered the listed phone number — (870) 228-1301 — which is not surprising, but a check of the restaurant's Facebook page (facebook.com/ HelenaTavern) earlier this week turned up this message: "This Content Isn't Available Right Now. When this happens, it's usually because the owner only shared it with a small group of people, changed who can see it or it's been deleted."

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We grabbed a newly printed to-go menu from a Little Rock Chinese restaurant the other day that had the words "price change" scrawled at the top, the better to notify patrons that prices, while still comparatively reasonable, had recently increased.

Prices at many area restaurants have, in some cases, dramatically gone up over the last few months. Among the several reasons:

◼️ Food costs. The cost of many basics, particularly meats and produce, has skyrocketed as supply and transportation problems have made it harder to get items from farm to table. Food delivery faces some of the same supply-chain problems that plague the economy as a whole — for example, a nationwide shortage of truck drivers.

◼️ Wages. It seems nobody will work at restaurants for their pre-pandemic wages; aside from legally mandated increases in the minimum wage, restaurants are finding that they can't get dishwashers, bussers and kitchen personnel for less than $11 an hour, and in some places even that isn't adequate. Meanwhile, servers are still expected to make up the difference between what they're paid by their employer, often less than $3 an hour, and their actual earnings via uncertain customer tips. The increase in labor costs is, by necessity, being passed along to customers.

◼️ Incidental costs that folks may not think about. For example, many restaurants installed new no-touch bathroom soap and towel dispensers and in some cases no-touch plumbing, at considerable expense. Many places also spent considerable sums installing anti-microbial scrubbers and ultraviolet bug-blasters in their HVAC systems, the better to cut down on bacteria and viruses in their air. Costs for personal protective equipment for employees and sanitizing supplies are also coming out of restaurants' bottom lines.

Meanwhile, many restaurants still find themselves short-staffed to the point where it not only affects their service, but in some cases makes it hard to know whether on any given day they will have enough workers. If they can't open for the evening, they still have costs, but no income.

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

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