RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: Boba chain files for bankruptcy, leaves workers in the lurch

Georges is still under construction on the site of the former Cafe Prego on Kavanaugh Boulevard in Little Rock's Pulaski Heights, but a sign on the front says they're hiring. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison)

Kawaii Boba House has reportedly filed for bankruptcy and as of July 13 closed its four Central Arkansas locations – 5625 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock; 501 Dave Ward Drive and 1310 Prince St., Conway; and the recently opened one at 3812 Central Ave., Hot Springs. The nearly two dozen employees say they have lost their jobs without notice and are still owed two weeks' pay. The store in Little Rock's Pulaski Heights has already been cleared of most of its furnishings. Instagram and Facebook pages show up as broken links. The central phone number for the mini-chain, (501) 358-7373, goes unanswered.

This July 14 social media post shows the situation from the employees' perspective: "On July 13 2023, all KBH employees were let go with no warning or pay. Most of the 20+ person staff, spanning 4 stores, didn't receive any pay for the last 2 weeks of work. We were let go without any sort of warning, were told our stores were empty by CUSTOMERS & got no answers from the owner Paul Grass." Customers have set up crowdfunding sources to help.

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And speaking of boba establishments, partner Xiao "Vicky" Xie says she's only awaiting the results of inspections sometime this week and hopes to open Gold Bowl Noodles-Hibachi-Boba Tea this weekend at 215 Center St., Little Rock. It has the same owners as Mr. Hui's in the Pleasant Town Center, 11525 Cantrell Road, Little Rock. They'll serve ramen and Chinese noodle soups and made-in-the-kitchen hibachi combos, 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The phone numbers are (501) 615-8591 and (501) 615-8459.

Meanwhile, around the corner, at 221 W. Second St., Little Rock, owner Jose Romero says he now has an Aug. 1 target to open Austin Fish & Seafood, a branch office of sorts of the original at 3369 Arkansas 367 North in Austin; the same family owns Lakewood Fish & Seafood in Lakewood House, 4801 North Hills Blvd., North Little Rock. The menu will be a similar mix of grilled and fried seafood. Hours will be 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.

And across the street, Dave's Place, 210 Center St, Little Rock, has been closed since the end of May while namesake owner-chef "Big" Dave Williams has been recovering from a bad infection. This post appeared May 27 on the restaurant's Facebook page ( "For those of you that don't know, Dad (Big Dave) is in the hospital. Both legs are badly infected and that's taken a toll on his liver and kidneys. Luckily, they don't think the infection is in the bones, so antibiotics should be able to clear that up." Nothing since; since there's nobody on the premises, nobody answers the phone at (501) 372-3283. We'll let you know as soon as we know when reopening pends.

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Meanwhile, across the street from the late Kawaii Boba House, construction is continuing apace at George's, billed as "an exciting new neighborhood Italian restaurant" going into the former Cafe Prego, 5510 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, and a sign in front of the building says hiring is underway. We still don't have any more of a specific target to open. We had previously reported that owners Mary Olive and John Stephens were expecting to spend more than $2.7 million on the restaurant, including a "complete renovation/addition to existing restaurant building and site" that required "demolition of existing structures and site areas as required for new design and layout." The website – is still basically a place holder. Last posts on the Facebook page,, are from April 2022.

Uber Eats has devoured Bite Squad's ASAP Deliveries in this area, meaning restaurants served by the latter have been required to re-up, but we're told that customers can still order through the Bite Squad/ASAP app until the end of the year. What becomes of Bite Squad's drivers is still apparently up in the air.

Delicious Temptations owner Tony Niel says he's looking at a mid-September target to open his expanded restaurant at 11220 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, which is adding about 2,000 square feet into the next-door space formerly occupied by a salon. Niel says the expansion will include remodeling and updating the existing space – he'll be tearing out the carpeting and putting the same flooring throughout – and the additional space will allow him to increase, though not quite double, his seating capacity (he'll be spreading out his tables, which right now are somewhat scrunched together, so customers will have more room).

Construction, delayed by the permitting process, started about two weeks ago; the plumbing is complete and so far the new bar has been framed in and workers will, if they have not already, soon be installing sheetrock. And Niel says the new space will allow him to also expand his kitchen – he'll have to add a grease trap to come up to code, but that will let him add a couple of fryers, though he's not sure yet what he'll use them for, plus another stove and grill. That'll both increase the efficiency of prep and make it possible to increase the catering operation. "It's another 2,000 square feet, but boy, it fills up fast," Niel notes.

Delicious Temptations has been serving breakfast-brunch-lunch for more than three decades. Right now, Niel says, he's planning to keep his current hours – 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily – but he's thinking there might be more occasional dinners, for special occasions such as Valentine's Day, or even the occasional weekend evening. (501) 225-6893;

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Don's Southern Social opened July 6 at 901 Central Ave., at Market Street, in Hot Springs. (The space used to house an architecture firm.) Owner and executive chef Joshua Garland tells us his menu of "upscale Southern comfort food" includes a fried chicken dish with black-pea brine, kimchi collard greens, "monster" gnocchi and chicken jus; the Woo Pig Sooie, barbecued pork belly; and a house specialty he's calling My Humps, a black-eyed-pea hummus with fried okra, crispy peas and herb oil. Hours are 5-9 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. We've been unable to track down a listed phone number; the website,, is still a work in progress.

We have an update on the new Dõblé Mexican Cafe, formerly one of two Conway locations of Tacos 4 Life, 2235 Dave Ward Drive. We mentioned that the menu includes eight core items, including the Papas Burrito that includes crispy fries and the Fresca Salad with zucchini, chickpeas and a zingy lime vinaigrette, made with chicken, spicy chicken, carnitas and a vegetable blend, with $2 upgrades for brisket and shrimp. Now we know what the other items are: a taco salad; Fajita and Puffy tacos; the Dõblé Burrito; and Queso Rice and Mission bowls. "For the table" appetizer options include queso and guacamole with chips; Quatro Dip (queso, guacamole and choice of two salsas – "regular, Reaper, Roasted & Verde"); and a cheddar-jack Queso Primo with refried beans, pico de gallo and chipotle aioli. The new establishment's motto, "Eat Good. Do Good. Double Good," displays the same partnership with Feed My Starving Children established by Taco 4 Life owners Austin and Ashton Samuelson, with the same mission to fight world hunger. On Saturday, guests can "Double their Good" with a special offer: Buy 2 Meals, Get 2 Meals, Provide 4 Meals. The 2 Free Meals will be in the form of Free Entree coupons to be used on a subsequent visit through Aug. 22.

Our previous report on the opening of Arkansas' first Beef-A-Roo outlet, 1111 U.S. 62 North, Harrison, mentioned the target opening date was to have been July 13, which was accurate at the time. Now we learn that the opening was pushed back – to 10 a.m today. The first 100 guests today will earn a golden ticket, which is redeemable for free cheese fries for a full year.

Arkansas' first Wienerschnitzel, at 1530 E. Centerton Blvd., Bentonville, opened Friday, and incorporates a Tastee Freez. Hours are 10 a.m.-midnight. The phone number: (479) 224-2445. Amarillo, Texas-based franchisee Tejas Dogs expects to open an outlet in Springdale in about two months, part of plans to open a total of 20 Arkansas locations over the next five to seven years – five in Northwest Arkansas, five to six in Central Arkansas (including the Little Rock and surrounding towns like Benton and Conway) and the balance spread throughout the state.

And Dolce Vita Italian Ristorante, 111 Ponderosa Lane, Hot Springs Village, is one of 10 winners of neighborhood social networking service Nextdoor's seventh annual Neighborhood Faves Awards. The program honors small businesses "most loved by locals" across the country, as voted on by "neighbors" on the platform from June 1-30. The restaurant, along with the other nine winning restaurants, merchants and services – Cafe 44, Greensboro, Ga.; Giorgio's Italian Food & Pizzeria, San Jose, Calif.; Jake the Handyman, San Diego; Joe the Plumber, Inc., Cape Coral, Fla.; Joes Pasta House, Rio Rancho, N.M.; Joseph's Junk Removal, Atlanta; Pedro Madril, Electrician, Phoenix; Powell's Books, Beaverton, Ore.; and Sweet Kneads, Eatonton, Ga. – will receive $500 in Nextdoor Ad credit "to help them continue growing their businesses," according to a news release. Other Little Rock-area businesses that have received a "Fave" status from Nextdoor include:

◼️ Best Coffee Shop: Community Bakery, which also won in the category of "Dessert Spot"

◼️ Go-to Restaurant: Fantastic China

◼️ Family Restaurant: Purple Cow

◼️ Burger Spot: David's Burgers

◼️ Hardware Store: Fuller & Son Hardware

◼️ Hair Salon or Barber Shop: Reflections Salon

◼️ Pet Services: Hillcrest Animal Hospital.


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: