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RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: Saffron gets new owners, adds buffet on weekend; George’s remodel to cost $2.7M

by Eric E. Harrison | March 31, 2022 at 6:54 a.m.
Saffron Indian Cuisine on Cantrell Road in west Little Rock has new owners, who have instituted a weekend brunch and have plans for menu additions. (Democrat-Gazette file photo)

Saffron Indian Cuisine, in The Center at Ten shopping center, 12911 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, has new owners and is under new management, according to a Facebook post (facebook.com/SaffronLittleRock).

New manager Hussain Jivani says the first of several changes is a weekend lunch buffet — 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, $14.99 plus tax — “with the varieties of Indian food to give you a fine dining experience,” according to the post, including, at least last weekend, Sambar and Chicken Hot & Sour soups; Aloo Bonda, Mini Samosa, Chicken Wings and Chicken Seekh Kebab appetizers; vegetarian entrees (Mix Dal, Punjabi Kadhi Pakoda, Paneer Dum Pukht Biryani); non-vegetarian entrees (Butter Chicken, Mughlai Chicken, Goat Lal Mas, Chicken Manchurian and Kheema Biryani); and dessert (Sevaiyya Kheer and Gulab Jamun). And Jivani confirms this Facebook post: “We are excited to let you all know that the meats we are serving are Certified Halal.”

Jivani says he and his partners, one of whom has been running Pista House in the Dallas suburb of Irving, Texas, are looking to add menu items, including biryani and kebabs; planning to eventually expand the buffet to three days a week; and to add a Thursday chaat night. Hours are 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday for the buffet, 5-10 p.m. for Sunday dinner; 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-11 p.m. Friday and 5-11 p.m. dinner Saturday. (501) 313-5335; saffronarkansas.com.

Oh, and they’ve added a next-door Indian market, Indian Mart, open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, where they are looking to add a halal butcher. (501) 817-6363.

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We reported last week that “an exciting new neighborhood Italian restaurant” called George’s was going into the former Cafe Prego, 5510 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock. Now comes a building permit application that shows owners Mary Olive and John Stephens expect to spend more than $2.7 million to renovate the space, including a “complete renovation/addition to existing restaurant building and site” that will require “demolition of existing structures and site areas as required for new design and layout.” East Harding Inc. of Little Rock is the contractor. “Late 2022” is still the target to get the place open.

Hogg’s Meat Market & Catering last week completed its move from 4520 Camp Robinson Road, North Little Rock, to 3901 John F. Kennedy Blvd., on North Little Rock’s Park Hill, on the other side of the road from the shopping center that encompasses North Bar and Old Mill Pizza. Hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. (501) 758-7700; hoggsmeatmarket.com.

J&J Food Truck Yard, a new food truck court at 3295 Arkansas 367, Cabot, debuts 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday with six food trucks in attendance: Cheesecake on Point, Nach’yo Nachos, The Cajun Trouxth, PopPop & YumYam, Juicy J Chicken & Fish LLC and ShoBo’s Kitchen. Some area small businesses will also set up booths and there will be “other fun activities throughout the day,” according to the Facebook post (facebook.com/JJFoodTruckYard). Organizers expect to be open 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. every day they’re able to book food trucks.

And speaking of food trucks, the Taste of Maumelle Food Truck Festival is set for 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at Maumelle Middle School, 1000 Carnahan Drive, Maumelle. (501) 269-6642, Kristin.dallas27@gmail.com.

Arkansas’ largest Dairy Queen franchisee, You Scream Holdings, LLC, will open its 13th DQ store “this summer” at 1222 S Rogers St., Clarksville. As has been the usual practice, once the doors open the first 100 folks to purchase a cake will receive one free item every week for a year — Clarksville residents can choose between Mini Blizzards or Stackburgers. Hours will be 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Specifics to follow via the Facebook page: facebook.com/DQClarksville.

  photo  Brood & Barley is one of several restaurants and bars along Main Street in North Little Rock taking part in the first Argenta Dogtown Throwdown of 2022, April 8-9. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)
 
 
Outdoor dining along North Little Rock’s Main Street returns with the Argenta Dogtown Throwdown, which will shut down the street between Broadway to Fifth Street, 4 p.m. April 8 to 10 p.m. April 9. The festivities kick off with a Dogtown Drinks happy hour at participating restaurants and bars at 4 p.m. April 8 with area musicians performing on the Argenta Library steps 6-9 p.m. Tent seating will be available and more than a half-dozen dining and drinking establishments will vend food and drinks for al fresco consumption. The Saturday schedule includes a 1-5 p.m. crawfish boil (details to come) and, 6-9 p.m., music with Dikki Du & the Zydeco Crew on the lot at 410 Main. For more information, visit argentaartsdistrict.org/dogtown-throwdown. Subsequent Throwdowns will take place on the second week of every month through October.

Meanwhile, the Argenta Farmers Market, featuring Arkansas produce, bakery, meat and crafts, is relocating to 410 Main (the parking lot south of the Argenta Library) when it returns, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. April 9. That will continue Saturdays through October. Visit argentaartsdistrict.org/argenta-farmers-market.

Superior Bathhouse Brewery founder Rose Schweikhart discusses the process of turning Hot Springs National Park’s geothermal water into beer, 5:30-7:30 p.m. April 14 at the Ozark Bathhouse, 491 Central Ave., Hot Springs. It’ll be the first of five events in the Mid-America Science Museum’s new “Drink and Think” speaker series, in partnership with Friends of Hot Springs National Park and Superior Bathhouse Brewery. Museum educators will also provide interactive science exhibits. Tickets, $25 ($20 for museum members), include entry to the Ozark Bathhouse, two drink tickets that can be redeemed for Superior beer, light appetizers and admission to the event. A multiple-evening pass is $90, $70 for museum members. Proceeds from all sales benefit the museum. Visit midamericamuseum.org/drink-and-think.

Modoko Asian Kitchen, 5204 W. Village Parkway, Rogers, is collaborating with Rogers-based Fox Trail Distillery on a four-course meal paired with specialty bourbon cocktails, 6 p.m. April 7. The menu pairs Green Curry Ceviche, Lobster Wellington and Prime Rib with cocktails made with Fox Trail’s Wild Parallel Bourbon in Straight, Toasted and Islay finishes as well as Fox Trail’s O’Highlands Bourbon. Tickets are $120 per person; visit tinyurl.com/yc7ueu5x.

The OASIS arts festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 14 on Jonesboro’s Main Street, celebrates visual, performing and culinary arts in northeast Arkansas with handmade goods and art of all kinds, an amateur baking contest, live music, kids’ activities and “a friendly restaurant food samples competition vying for ‘crowd favorite.’” Deadline is April 15 for restaurateurs and home bakers to register, via oasisfest.org; visit facebook.com/OasisArtsandEatsFest for more info.

And Little Rock is in the top third of U.S. cities — 66th out of 197 — when it comes to brunch, according to LawnStarter, an online lawn-care company, which ranked 2022’s Best Cities for Brunch Lovers (lawnstarter.com/blog/studies/best-cities-brunch-lovers/#rankings) to mark National Brunch Month, which is April. (What does a lawn-care company have to do with brunch? Your guess is as good as ours.) Criteria for the rankings include access rank (number of establishments serving brunch per square mile; number of brunch deals at local and nearby establishments), quality (average consumer rating for establishments serving brunch; number of highly rated establishments — 4.5-plus stars); community (number of brunch clubs, number of brunch events); and demand (average monthly Google searches for “brunch” or “brunch near me” over the past 12 months).

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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