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RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: East Village market hall set to open; Cregeen’s closure set post St. Patrick’s Day

by Eric E. Harrison | March 16, 2023 at 1:31 a.m.
Red Bowl Noodle & Dim Sum is on target to open by the end of March in the Galleria shopping center, 9700 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison)

After some soft-opening events last weekend, we're expecting Sterling Market to open late this week at 515 Shall Ave., in the former Cathead's Diner space in Little Rock's East Village, says co-owner Fidel Samour, who also operates Fidel & Co Coffee Roasters, across the street at 500 Shall Ave., with a "branch office" at 610 President Clinton Ave., in Little Rock's River Market District.

The website,, provides clues on what you'll find there: "Where Culinary Meets Community" and "One Space, Five Unique Menus." The market space includes five areas: Bakery (sweets and house-made bagels), Greens (salads), Pizza (specialty pies and "house pizzas" by the slice), Butcher (sandwiches and meats by the pound) and Libations (a capacious bar). There's also a division peddling snacks and side dishes: (roasted peanuts, braised sauerkraut, house olives, triple cooked crispy potatoes with Bearnaise, mixed house pickles and barbecue navy beans).

Hours will be 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily; patio dining is pending. (501) 300-6938;

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We considered suspicious reports we were getting on the closure of Cregeen's Irish Pub, 301 Main St., North Little Rock — no Irish pub is going to close the week before St. Patrick's Day, right? — but Kevin Shalin's Mighty Rib food blog says that the pub will close its doors following service on Saturday. We have been unable to confirm that other than to get certification that the pub is currently open — hours are 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday-Tuesday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Wednesday-Friday — and serving, at least through the end of the week. (501) 376-7468; Cregeen's was the first of several area Irish pubs, opening at the corner of Broadway and Main Street in North Little Rock's Argenta district in 2007.

Speaking of pizza, Certified Pies, which has been operating out of a communal kitchen at 9813 W. Markham St., Little Rock, on the back side of a shopping center, behind Fuller & Son Hardware, is moving to the front of the center — into a space at 9807 W. Markham, to be exact, that used to house Art Is In Cakes, Bakery Supply. No timeline yet for the move, or any idea as to whether the service hours, currently 2-8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, will expand in the new space. (501) 442-5096;

And still speaking of pizza, the Mr. Gatti's chain/franchise operation, once a presence in Arkansas but absent for at least a couple of decades, has announced plans to open 15 new franchised "units" in Oklahoma and Missouri and two in Arkansas (no actual locations yet announced) over the next six years. "The development is part of the brand's ongoing initiatives to grow its national footprint to bring its famous pizza and unique gaming experience to more families and pizza fans," according to a news release. Franchisee is "experienced restaurant operator" Brent Swadley, founder and president of Swadley BBQ, which, according to the news release, is the largest barbecue provider in the state of Oklahoma.

We have an update on the closure of Graffiti's Italian Restaurant, 7811 Cantrell Road, Little Rock: Co-owner Armando Bolanos, we're told, is consolidating his operations at his other restaurant, La Terraza Rum & Lounge, 3000 Kavanaugh Blvd., in Little Rock's Hillcrest. That's where calls to Graffiti's phone number, (501) 224-9079, now automatically transfer. Bolanos meanwhile has incorporated much of Graffiti's menu into the offerings at La Terraza, and we are also told that Bolanos could be seeking another location to reopen. Nothing on the restaurant's website,, or Facebook page,, yet directly indicate that Graffiti's is no longer operating.

And we have an update on Red Bowl Noodle & Dim Sum, going into the space in the Galleria shopping center, 9700 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, most recently the former location of Homer's West: The chef, whose name we're still trying to puzzle out, is, we're told, the former dim sum chef at Chi's Chinese and currently is a partner in west Little Rock's Tokyo House and has a place called Asian House in Bryant. Interior construction is still in progress but nearing completion; an employee told us to expect it to open sometime in the next two to three weeks, permits and inspections permitting. We know the hours, because they're posted on the front door: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday and Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday-Sunday (the earlier weekend opening hour is because dim sum — a selection of dumplings, buns, wraps, noodle rolls and, for dessert, puffs, tarts and puddings — is usually served for lunch or brunch and is popular, particularly among Asian customers, on weekends.

An outlet of Tulsa-based licensed (not franchised, please) operation Sugar Llamas is in the works for the Creekwood Plaza shopping center, 1121 S. Bowman Road, Little Rock (near the intersection of Bowman and Kanis roads), where it will sell coffee, mini doughnuts and ice cream. A post earlier this week on the Facebook page,, explains, "We will begin taking applications for part-time positions soon. The build is going to move forward pretty quickly in a week or so. Check back for updates." Another outlet is in the works for Fayetteville; there are currently outlets in Tulsa, South Tulsa, Jenks, Broken Arrow and Owasso, Okla., with locations "coming soon" to Sapulpa, Oklahoma City, Moore, Stillwater, Edmond and Yukon, Okla.; Houston; Wichita, Kan.; and Omaha, Neb.

Nawf of the City has opened at 5107 Warden Road, North Little Rock, in what was, before it moved "south," the North Little Rock space of Whole Hog Cafe, serving, among other things, burgers, wings and catfish baskets, Philly cheesesteaks and nachos. Hours are listed as noon-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, noon-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday, 1-10 p.m. Sunday. (501) 747-1009;;

We've received confirmation from corporate headquarters of Oklahoma City-based Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy Store that the company is planning to open an outlet in Conway. A spokeswoman says they are looking in the area but have not yet settled on a site. Braum's has several Northwest Arkansas outlets (in Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville, Siloam Springs, Alma, Van Buren and Fort Smith) but this would be the first incursion into Central Arkansas. The company website,, explains that it only has locations in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri because "Braum's products are delivered every other day by our own fleet of refrigerated trucks so that we can sell and serve fresh products. ... [O]ur delivery system requires that store locations be within approximately a 330-mile radius of our processing plant and distribution center in Tuttle, Okla., 40 miles southwest of Oklahoma City."

While The Momentary, 507 S.E. E St., Bentonville, a contemporary art space that is a satellite to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, is undergoing a several-week remodel of the interior atrium and lobby, its Onyx coffee shop will close. In the interim, the Tower Bar — ordinarily reserved before 5 p.m. for Momentary members — will offer coffee service during the day during the remodeling, opening to everyone, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. (Evening Tower Bar hours will continue to be 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday.) Visit

At Allsopp & Chapple Restaurant + Bar, 311 Main St., Little Rock, 6:30 p.m. March 29, executive chef James Hale is pairing four courses dinner with six selections from Copper Cane Wines & Provisions. Cost, $149 per person, includes valet parking. Space is limited and reservations are required — call (501) 902-4911 or visit

Food Truck Thursdays resume, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. starting March 30, in the parking lot next to the Pulaski County Administration Building, 201 S. Broadway, Little Rock. Food vendors expected to be on hand on that first day: Lili's Mexican Street Food, The Prickly Pickle, JMG Mobile Grill, Rock City Dog's, CBRZ Catering, Fry Fry Crazy, K&J Treatz and Mr. Keith's Kettlecorn. For more information, email Mark Hulsey at

And Pink House Alchemy, 928 N. College Ave., Fayetteville, hosts a nonalcoholic Happy Hour, 4-6 p.m. Thursdays, which a news release describes as "spirit-free yet spirited evenings" for folks who "no longer imbibe ABV but still imbibe delicious flavor." The options include four mocktails plus snacks. It's free to attend; there's a cost, of course, for drinks and snacks. Call (479) 935-3313 or visit

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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