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RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: Is dim sum destined for west Little Rock spot?

by Eric E. Harrison | February 2, 2023 at 5:31 a.m.
A dim sum restaurant is reportedly moving into the former Homer's West on North Rodney Parham Road. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison)

We're still a little fuzzy on many details, but one of our correspondents in the real estate business tells that the former Homer's West, in the Galleria shopping center, 9700 N. Rodney Parham Road, which recently got a burnt orange exterior paint job, is going to be a dim sum restaurant, set to open this spring, under the aegis of an operation called Red Bowl LLC. That may or may not be the overarching company for Red Bowl Asian Bistro, a chain/franchise operation with outlets in the Carolinas and Alabama. And it may or may not be under the helm of a Chef Chen, who, we are told, is a partner in west Little Rock's Tokyo House and operates a place called Asian House in Bryant. We'll continue digging.

Dim sum is a selection of dumplings, buns, wraps, noodle rolls and, for dessert, puffs, tarts and puddings, usually served from carts for lunch or brunch. It's popular in big cities; in Little Rock, customers, predominantly Asian, flocked to the original Chi's at West Markham and Shackleford on weekends. Chi's Chinese Cuisine, 17200 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, picked up dim sum service after the original restaurant closed, but hasn't had it so much lately.

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Two large and somewhat intimidating metal sculptures/statues now flank the entrance to the former Romano Macaroni Grill, 11100 W. Markham St., Little Rock. They appear to be linked to the Mexican Day of the Dead, and resemble very much one in front of Diablos Tacos & Mezcaleria, 300 President Clinton Ave., on the edge of Little Rock's River Market District. (There's also a Diablos in Hot Springs.) Is there a connection? Folks at the River Market restaurant say they have not heard anything about a west Little Rock branch.

We've reported that Northwest Arkansas-based Wright's Barbecue is planning to open a Little Rock branch in the Quonset hut that once housed the Wine Cellar at 1311 Rebsamen Park Road, behind the Town Pump. The restaurant recently put up a photo of a mockup on Twitter that shows a large patio and a smokehouse.

The grand opening of the Crumbl Cookies outlet in Lakewood Village (next to Cicis Pizza), off McCain Boulevard west of McCain Mall, North Little Rock, is upon us: 8 a.m.-midnight Friday and apparently continuing into Saturday. Takeout, curbside and delivery functions start on Wednesday. (501) 436-5252;

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In case you missed it earlier in the week, the state Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism announced 12 Arkansas restaurants as finalists for the 2023 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame: Betty's Old Fashion, El Dorado; Big Banjo Pizza, Pine Bluff; Black Angus, Little Rock; Bulldog Restaurant, Bald Knob; Daisy Queen, Marshall; DeVito's Restaurant, Harrison; Hugo's, Fayetteville; Kream Kastle, Blytheville; Meacham's Family Restaurant, Ash Flat; Ozark Cafe, Jasper; Skyline Cafe, Mena; and the Ohio Club, Hot Springs.

Finalists for "Proprietor of the Year" honors are Chuck Taylor, Taylor's Steakhouse, Dumas; Chester and Laura Huntsman, Beech Street Bistro, Crossett; David Stobaugh, Stoby's Restaurant, Conway; James Woods, Woods Place, Camden; Jamie McAfee, Pine Bluff Country Club, Pine Bluff; and Jim Keet, JTJ Restaurants, Little Rock.

Finalists for "Food-Themed Event": the Knights of Columbus' Slovak Oyster Supper in Slovak; the Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Cook-Off in Magnolia; and the Mayhaw Festival in El Dorado.

And the "Gone But Not Forgotten" finalists — honoring once-influential Arkansas restaurants that are no longer in operation: 4-Dice Restaurant, Fordyce; Bohemia Restaurant, Hot Springs; Chip's Barbeque, Little Rock; and Sir Loin's Inn, North Little Rock.

The Hall of Fame, founded in 2016, recognizes "Arkansas' legendary restaurants, proprietors and food-themed events across the state," according to a news release. The Food Hall of Fame Committee of historians, chefs, foodies and food authors examined more than 1,800 submissions in five categories (also including People's Choice) from all 75 Arkansas counties during October and will announce the winners, as well as the winner of the People's Choice Award (based on the total number of nominations received), at a hybrid ceremony (in-person and virtual) March 6 at Little Rock's Ron Robinson Theater. Visit

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Valentine's Day approaches and if you plan to take your significant other out for a meal upon that day, you had better start working on reservations now. We've already gotten word on a couple of high-end options:

Kemuri — sushi, seafood, robata, 2601 Kavanaugh Blvd, Little Rock, is planning a pretty big blowout for couples: a six-course private-dining-room dinner with wine and sake pairings, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Feb. 11 and also Valentine's Day, Feb. 14. The menu includes "Valentines Sushi"; thin-sliced hamachi; a spinach shrimp salad with a plum vinaigrette; Scottish salmon with a lemon-dill beurre blanc; beef tenderloin; and chocolate pot de creme. Limit 20 couples; price is $275 per couple (all inclusive). Call (501) 660-4100 for reservations.

Meanwhile, The Croissanterie, 14710 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, is looking to take the stress off of Valentine's Day with a prix-fixe, four-course chef's menu the day after — 6:30 p.m. Feb. 15. Each couple will share a first course; each person will select, upon arrival, a salad or soup; each couple will receive one of each entree; and dessert will be for the table to share. "We are still awaiting our liquor license, so please feel free to bring your favorite wine if desired," says the email blast to patrons. Cost is $150 per couple (plus tax, $15.94, and gratuity — minimum $4.15 service fee). Reservations are required — visit (501) 412-4244.

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The ribbon-cutting for The Main Event is Feb. 18 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) at Shackleford Crossings, 2616 S. Shackleford Road at Interstate 430, featuring bowling, multi-level laser tag, gravity ropes, virtual reality, arcade games and more — that includes a full-service restaurant, Family Kitchen, "boasting a new menu with delicious, highly rated elevated bites and a full bar with craft beers and unique craft cocktails," according to a news release. The menu will feature "handcrafted, flavorful American-classic dishes with a twist, including the Crispy Chicken Sandwich and the Mason Jar Cheesecakes." The grand opening is set for Feb. 24; the first 200 customers in line when the doors open at noon will receive free laser tag for a year. Hours will be 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday, 11 a.m.-midnight Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday. It's the 54th location of what is the second brand from the folks that brought you Dave & Buster's.

Kawaii Boba House, with two outlets in Conway and one in Little Rock, has opened one in Hot Springs at 3812 Central Ave. (501) 358-7373;

And the Pine Bluff Commercial reports that a Chick-fil-A franchise is possibly in the works for part of a 5.5 acre plot at the southeast corner of Olive Street and Interstate 530. The developer says the application process with the city is in progress. So is a social media frenzy.

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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