The new establishment going into what used to be Cregeen's Irish Pub, 301 Main St., North Little Rock, which closed Saturday, is to be called Draft and Table, says executive chef and co-owner Kev Doroski.
He's not yet revealing details about the menu, but says it will "play to the Argenta demographic," which includes customers who are headed to concerts at the nearby Simmons Bank Arena and to plays and musical performances at Argenta Community Theater and clubs along North Little Rock's Main Street.
Doroski trained under Eric Isaac at Argenta's Ristorante Capeo, but he says he's looking to get away from Italian cuisine. He's looking to create a balance: on the one hand, "excellent bar food and quick-serve dishes," which, he says, "won't be a lot of open-the-bag, deep-fried" items and "won't be the same as everybody else on the block." And on the other, a selection of higher-end entrees that would include steaks and seafood but also items that Doroski says, again without being specific, will be "things people around here haven't seen before."
Doroski says he and his as-yet unidentified partners are keeping Cregeen's huge imported-from-Ireland bar — "We couldn't in good conscience get rid of that," he explains — but are otherwise giving the space a complete remodeling. The dining area will be divided into high-top tables for casual and pre-concert dining and an area designed for higher-end, more leisurely meals.
He anticipates a four-month construction period, with a timeline to open sometime between Aug. 1 and Sept. 1; ideally, Draft and Table will be open by the time the city of North Little Rock starts blocking off several blocks of Main Street for street dining in the fall. Hours will be 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday, opening at 10 a.m. for Saturday and Sunday brunch.
Speaking of Argenta, keep an eye open late this year for the opening of Funky Stretch Pizza at 500 N. Magnolia St., a few blocks northeast of the Argenta Plaza. Co-owners Tina Bone and Chrissy Prange are spouses, respectively, of Jess McMullen, co-founder of Flyway Brewing and co-owner of Brood & Barley and Brayan McFadden, Brood & Barley's executive chef and co-owner. The bill of fare will include pizza, wings, salads and sandwiches; it will have a full bar and outdoor dining.
The 7 Brew Coffee outlet at 8023 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, has opened, which it is marking with "free drink" hours — receive a free small drink, 7-8 a.m. and noon-1 p.m. today and noon-1 p.m. and 5-6 p.m. Friday. Regular hours are 5:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
March 31 will be the last day for Betty's Old Fashion, 1334 E. Hillsboro St., El Dorado, Arkansas' oldest dairy diner. The state Department of Transportation is widening the roadway — Business U.S. 82 — and the diner sits too close to the right of way, so the state is invoking eminent domain and forcing owner Betty Schaub to vacate; it will be torn down and the lot will be paved over. Schaub thanked patrons in a March 3 Facebook post, adding, "It is with great sadness that I have to make this post! March 31 will be our last working day. It's time for us to get out of the way so the great ARDOT can tear us down." Until the end of the month, it'll continue serving burgers, fries and soft-serve ice cream. Expect long lines, according to a colleague who recently visited on a trip to El Dorado and couldn't get to the ordering window. The phone number is (870) 863-9015.
Phil Schaaf opened the dairy bar in 1934 as Old Fashion and operated it until he retired in 1976; Schaub, an employee, bought it and added her name to it. Oh, and in one more stroke of irony, it was one of the 12 finalists for Arkansas Heritage's 2023 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame. And if Schaub doesn't manage to reopen it in a new location, you can bet, sooner rather than later, it will be a candidate for the Food Hall's "Gone But Not Forgotten" category.
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Minnesota-based Crisp & Green, a "Healthy Salads & Bowls Brand," will open its first Arkansas outlet in April at 1401 S. Walton Blvd., Suite 11, Bentonville. It'll be the first of five planned Arkansas locations, but since the website, crispandgreen.com, lists the other four only as Location(s) 2-5 without reference to any particular location, we can't yet tell you where. Also at the website you can check out the menu, which offers specialty salads, grain and acai bowls and a selection of smoothies, all "handcrafted with sustainable, consciously sourced ingredients," according to a news release. Hours will be 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. A phone number is pending. The five-unit Arkansas expansion is part of a multi-market development agreement with The Green Guys, LLC, which is also looking to open outlets in North Carolina. Parent company Steele Brands is looking to expand across 15 states in 2023. The chain also stresses its "Commitment to Community," partnering with local fitness experts to provide complimentary classes. Bentonville-area fitness studios and "ambassadors" interested in partnering with the brand should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rogers-based Onyx Coffee Lab is the subject of a docuseries called "The Road to Milan," which follows co-founder Andrea Allen's journey to the 2021 World Barista Championship. Seattle-based studio Wildly produced the series, which recently received an award for Best Series Episode at the Oregon Documentary Film Festival (and a nomination for Most Inspirational Film). Release details about the series are TBA. See the trailer at madewildly.com/the-goods/theroadtomilan. Visit onyxcoffeelab.com to learn more about the company.
Forthcoming food-related benefits and events:
◼️ Dishes from restaurants, caterers and merchants around Central Arkansas are the focus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Alumni Association's 18th annual "Taste of Little Rock" fundraiser, 6-8 p.m. April 4 in the Jack Stephens Center at the north end of UALR, 2801 S. University Ave., Little Rock. Participants include Fat Jaw Soul Food and Southern Eats, Le Pops, Chicken Salad Chick, Count Porkula, Taziki's, Waldo's Chicken and Beer, Big Bad Breakfast, Kreative Expression Catering, Sauce(d) Bar and Oven, Zin Wine Bar, Red Moon Tavern, Trio's, Mockingbird Bar and Tacos, Loblolly Ice Cream, Petit and Keet, Cypress Social, Cantina Laredo, Delicious Temptations, Lost Forty, SAP's Creole Cuisine, Community Bakery, CBR'z Catering and Smackey's. The event also honors UALR alum James Bobo. Tickets are $75, $35 if you graduated from UALR within the last five years, are an alumni lifetime member or are a member of the UALR faculty and/or staff. Ticket sales support student scholarships through the UA Little Rock Alumni Association. Visit ualr.edu/giving/event/taste-of-little-rock-2023. Call (501) 916-3208.
◼️ Youth Home, the Little Rock-based nonprofit psychiatric treatment center, holds its Eggsquisite Evening April 13 at Chenal Country Club, 10 Chenal Club Blvd., Little Rock. At 6:30 p.m., following a 5:30-6:30 VIP reception with a signature cocktail, comes a five-course dinner with wine pairings prepared by these prominent area chefs: Jamie McAfee, Pine Bluff Country Club; Patrick Carter and Jordan Davis, Chenal Country Club; Kennedy Cotton, Heritage Catering; Titus Holly, The Pantry; Scott Rains, Table 28; and Brayan McFadden, Brood & Barley. Shane Henderson of Ben E. Keith is the master of ceremonies and head chef. There will also be live and silent auctions. A "Date Night" package — two reserved tickets to the event and dinner and access to the reception — is $1,000. Visit: youthhome.org/events/eggsquisite-evening.
◼️ The second annual Party at the Plaza, a benefit for Arkansas Hospice, will feature "music, art, food and family fun," with food trucks and free concerts, 2-9:30 p.m. April 22 at Argenta Plaza, 510 Main St., North Little Rock. Additional attractions will include the Artists on the Avenue market, family-friendly activities and the handing out of the second annual Michael V. Aureli Compass Award to Arkansas Hospice co-founder Dee Brazil-Dale. Admission is free; food truck food, etc., will cost money. Visit arkansashospice.org/plaza2023.
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: email@example.com