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RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: Kemuri West set to open Monday; Tamalcalli finds brick-and-mortar home on Little Rock’s Main Street

by Eric E. Harrison | September 8, 2022 at 1:44 a.m.
Tamalcalli, the Tamale, Taco & Cerveza Stand, is pending in the shotgun space at Little Rock’s 308 Main St. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison)

The new west Little Rock branch of Kemuri sushi seafood robata, colloquially known as Kemuri West, in the Centre at Chenal shopping center, 17200 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, cleared its permit process — city and state Health Department — Sept. 1. Soft-opening activities are in progress this week; it will open officially on Monday. Operating hours will be 4:30-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday (any Sunday opening eventually depends on getting sufficient staff in place, a manager tells us). The phone number is (501) 821-7272; the Facebook page is facebook.com/KemuriWest. The original restaurant is at 2601 Kavanaugh Blvd. in Little Rock’s Hillcrest.

A sign is up on the front of the building, and a banner hangs over the door of the shotgun storefront at 308 Main St., Little Rock, proclaiming “Coming Soon: Tamalcalli, the Tamale, Taco & Cerveza Stand.” It is to be the permanent space for a food truck, Tamalcalli The Tamale House, most frequently to be spotted on Cantrell Road in the Heights. Hints on what to expect from the menu are available on the Facebook page (facebook.com/profile.php?id=100070463201091): “Authentic Mexican Food Truck — Tamales, Tacos, Burritos, Enchiladas, Flautas, Ramen Birria, Quesabirrias & So MUCH MORE!!!” The word “Cerveza” indicates that you can expect beer as well. We don’t have an opening date, but a Sept. 1 post on the page tells folks to stay tuned for a grand opening announcement and that the food truck will continue operating. A call to the food truck number, (501) 647-5546, got us a voicemail explanation that the mailbox hasn’t yet been set up, so we couldn’t leave a message. You will recall that the space has been occupied by several establishments over the past few years, most recently by TOPDOG Hot Dogs and Beer.

A search through recent applications for alcoholic beverage licenses with the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division turned up an answer to a query we’ve been getting but haven’t so far been able to answer: What, exactly, is going into the storefront at 219 W. Capitol Ave., Little Rock, former home of Southern Gourmasian. A “mixed drink minimum” permit is pending for something called Asian Capitol Restaurant & Bar at that address. We have no other details but we’ll keep an eye open (two eyes when possible).

Also popping out of that search: Sylvia Pennington, owner-chef of SAP’s Creole Cuisine, 13120 Crystal Hill Road, has applied for a mixed-drink minimum license, and Kelly Lovell, half of the pair that brought you Count Porkula BBQ, has applied for a mixed-drink minimum license for the third location of what is becoming a mini-chain, 201 Keightley Drive in Little Rock’s Pulaski Heights (formerly, as you will recall, the site of the Ozark Country Restaurant, wiped out by a 2018 fire).

Hot Springs Mexican restaurant Salsa’s plans a second restaurant in Conway, location and opening date to be announced, but owner Pedro Magana says via a Facebook post, facebook.com/groups/1494743340680967/user/1252760540, that it will be opening “very soon.” The Hot Springs location is at 4324 Central Ave. (501) 520-5305; salsashotsprings.com/welcometosalsas.

Yellow Rocket Concepts is planning in spring 2023 to open its second Northwest Arkansas outlet, Fayetteville Taco & Tamale Co. in the South Yard Development, 404 W. Streamside Bend. (The first, Bentonville Taco & Tamale, is at 101 W. Central Ave., Bentonville. Progenitor Heights Taco & Tamale is at 5805 Kavanaugh Blvd. in Little Rock’s Pulaski Heights.

Reporter John Magsam, in this paper’s most recent Sunday Business section, reports on the nationwide expansion plans for the Fayetteville-based Slim Chickens chain, “with its restaurants moving into new markets even as the industry as a whole faces ongoing challenges from inflation and worker shortages.” A total of 120 new development agreements this year puts the company with more than 1,100 restaurants in various stages of planning. Those plans include eight new locations in Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia, according to a news release, three of them in Arkansas, “near other locations that the group” — that’s DHR Group, a “multi-unit operating group” (a fancy term for franchisee) — “already owns in the area.” That’s according to a company spokeswoman, who was unable to supply any specifics or additional details.

And a small fistful of food-centered events, benefits and classes to report on this week:

Ribfest, a rib-cooking competition, takes place Sept. 24 at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, 20900 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, with cooking teams hovering over their smokers and grills all day; at 4 p.m., members of the public get to sample the day’s offerings for a $30 ticket that includes ribs (plus sides and other offerings) from each team and the right to vote on whose ribs are best. The event also features craft vendors, music from Houston-based Grifters & Shills and college football on a big screen. All proceeds benefit the Arkansas Down Syndrome Association and the church’s ministries. Call (501) 416-8295, email eifortune@yahoo.com or visit ribfestlr.org.

St. Joseph Center of Arkansas, 6800 Camp Robinson Road, North Little Rock, holds its Lettuce Grow benefit, 6-9 p.m. Sept. 23. Tickets, $65, include wine, beer from Flyway Brewery, hard seltzers from Diamond Bear and a signature drink by Delta Dirt Distillery; dinner catered by Two Sisters; a silent auction; music by The Gravel Yard; a tour of the building and grounds; and a meet-and-greet with the locals: goats, cows and Peaches the farm dog. Visit farmstand.stjosephcenter.org/product/lettuce-grow-ticket/523.

And the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute, 13000 Interstate 30 Frontage Road, Little Rock, is offering a series of 9 a.m.-noon culinary classes, Saturdays in October, for youngsters 12-17. “Eating Through the Classics,” with instructor Regina Cornish, focuses on recognizable classic books and book series:

  • ◼️ Oct. 8: “You’re a Chef, Harry!”
  • ◼️ Oct. 15: “Nibbles from Narnia”
  • ◼️ Oct. 22: “Hungry for the Hunger Games”
  • ◼️ Oct. 29: “Charlie’s Chocolates.”

Fee for the the complete series is $220; Register at tinyurl.com/3czrsk5v. Fee for individual classes is $65 per; register for each and see the school’s complete schedule of classes for kids at tinyurl.com/4zzvm3kb.

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: Kemuri West set to open Monday; Tamalcalli finds brick-and-mortar home in Little Rock

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