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RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: Craft pizzeria sets opening date in El Dorado's Murphy Arts District; Little Rock rooftop bar's reopening delayed

by Eric E. Harrison | September 9, 2021 at 6:53 a.m.
Patrons sat at the outdoor bar at Agasi 7 on a pleasant November 2018 evening. The rooftop bar, which was expected to reopen over Labor Day weekend after months of covid-19-caused closure, won't reopen before Sept. 17. (Democrat-Gazette file photo)

MuleKick@MAD, an offshoot of Magnolia's popular Mule Kick, is set to open Sept. 23 in the former Griffin Restaurant, 101 E. Locust St. in El Dorado's Murphy Arts District.

A soft opening starts Tuesday and runs through a seated, invitation-only dinner Sept. 22, according to an email invitation from Christy Ouei, Mule Kick president and "Chief Cheerleader," "allowing us to get our feet wet with an audience that's predisposed to like us."

Initially the restaurant will open with a limited, one-page menu, that will be in place until Thanksgiving, focusing — similar to the one in Magnolia — on "next level pizza" (the kitchen makes its own dough and tosses it by hand), wings, what Ouei calls "fun appetizers" and probably a brownie tower for dessert, with a different menu for Sunday brunch. A second menu page will likely surface after Thanksgiving through the end of the year, and she expects to put into place an even more robust menu in January that will include a grill section (steak, fish, chicken and possibly a pork chop).

There will be an intense program of on-tap beers, including at least 12 craft brews (the Magnolia restaurant, Ouei says, has 30 craft beers on tap); she has inherited the Griffin's sommelier-chosen wine collection, so the list will likely start out with 40-50 different wines.

The Griffin closed in March 2020 due to the covid-19 pandemic. Extensive renovations inside and out (including the installation of fire pits along Locust Street creating an outdoor space that Ouei says can accommodate 60-70 customers) have turned what had been the formal dining room into a "laid-back, hip space." The venue will offer live music several times a week, plus Tuesday trivia nights.

Hours will be 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for Sunday brunch. The phone number for reservations, which are highly encouraged, is (870) 444-3008; the website is mulekickatMAD.com.

Meanwhile, Ouei says, she and her team are working on a new Magnolia operation in the former Perfect Cup location, due sometime in 2022. It'll have a different concept and a different name, which she is choosing not to release yet.

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Agasi 7, the rooftop bar on top of the downtown Little Rock Hilton Garden Inn, 322 Rock St., was expected to reopen over the Labor Day weekend, but that reopening has been postponed until Sept. 17, according to the person who answered the phone at (501) 244-0044. The space closed down last fall citing covid-19, according to an Oct. 16 Facebook post.

The hotel, by the way, is part of the Third Street temporary entertainment district, which despite concerns over crime and caravanning, the Little Rock Board of Directors in July extended through Oct. 6. Meanwhile, the board this week approved a new temporary entertainment district in the Pulaski Heights neighborhood that would make possible outdoor dining in areas not adjacent to the restaurant facilities 5-9 p.m. Sept. 16, Oct. 21 and Nov. 18.

Patrons wearing a wristband will be able to buy alcoholic drinks from particular vendors in the given area and consume them in the open along two separate stretches of road in the Heights area, along Kavanaugh Boulevard from University Avenue to North Polk Street and along Kavanaugh from Cantrell Road north along the eastern side of the road to where Club Road meets North Van Buren Street. There are at least a dozen eateries within the district, but it's not certain at this point which ones will be participating.

The board, also in July, extended a temporary entertainment district in Hillcrest through Oct. 7.

Construction and installations continue at The Original Hot Dog Factory, 1424 Main St., Little Rock, expected to open later in September. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison)
Construction and installations continue at The Original Hot Dog Factory, 1424 Main St., Little Rock, expected to open later in September. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison)

Owner-operator Devin Marcel says lights are being installed and he's still expecting to open sometime by the end of this month The Original Hot Dog Factory, 1424 Main St., Little Rock, Central Arkansas' first outlet of an Atlanta-based franchise/chain operation. Hours will be 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 am.-midnight Friday-Sunday. Find the menu at the website, theoriginalhotdogfactory.com, which still only lists locations in Atlanta, Smyrna and Marietta, Ga. We don't yet have a phone number; the Facebook page is facebook.com/hotdogfactorylittlerock.

In the midst of the current covid-19 surge, Dave's Place, 210 Center St., Little Rock, has gone back to doing "temporary curbside only" for weekday lunch and Friday night dinner. It doesn't appear to have affected the level of the cuisine — the Friday menu included lasagna; chicken parmesan; pork loin stuffed with pesto, mushrooms and mozzarella; and salmon Florentine. The phone number is (501) 372-3283; the website is davesplacerestaurant.com.

North Little Rock-based Potluck Food Rescue will host its annual fundraiser, "Driving Away Hunger," 6-8 p.m. Sept. 30 at The Rail Yard, 1212 E. Sixth St., in Little Rock's East Village. Tickets, $75, include dinner, music by The Hounds, beer and wine (with a cash bar for mixed drinks). Covid-19 precautions will be in effect; the event will take place rain or shine. Visit potluckfoodrescue.org.

And architecture and engineering firms Cromwell Architects Engineers, Revival Architecture, Woods Group Architects and Nature Angle will compete in the Alex Foundation's second annual "Dessert Before Dinner With Bubbles and Bon Bons" fundraiser, 2-6 p.m. Oct. 3 at Garvan Woodland Gardens, 550 Arkridge Road, Hot Springs. Architects and designers will use their building talents to create cakes in the shape of "iconic" buildings for a judging panel of bakery connoisseurs and the owners of Ann Potter Baking, Cocoa Bell Chocolates, Community Bakery and Sweet Love Bakes. Tickets, $35 in advance, $45 day-of, include a tour of Garvan Woodland Gardens, dinner and a performance by singer-songwriter-producer Steve Azar. Arkansas comedian Nate Williams hosts. Visit centralarkansastickets.com.

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

Print Headline: RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: Craft pizzeria sets opening date in El Dorado arts district; Little Rock rooftop bar's reopening delayed

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