RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: Denny’s on Shackleford closed; weather issues delay Bleu Monkey opening

A Denny's breakfast is shown in this Jan. 27, 2019 file photo. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette file photo)
A Denny's breakfast is shown in this Jan. 27, 2019 file photo. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette file photo)

We're not sure when or how long ago it happened, but the Denny's at 310 Shackleford Road, Little Rock, has closed. The phone number, (501) 224-8264, is still active and suggests you can place an order, so it can't have been that long ago, but the signs are gone and the building is dark and forlorn-looking even in the daytime. And the website,, still lists the location, but marks it "closed" and the online order tab reads "unavailable." The only remaining Central Arkansas location we've been able to find via the website is at 23236 Interstate 30, Bryant.

The west Little Rock branch of the Bleu Monkey Grill, in the former Gusano's/Chili's space in the Village at Pleasant Valley Shopping Center, 10700 N. Rodney Parham Road at Interstate 430, missed its Jan. 22 target opening date. A post last week on its Facebook page (, top-lined "Update on our grand opening," explains that, "Unfortunately, the weather last week has delayed our licensing approvals. We will announce a new opening date as soon as possible." Hours are now expected to be 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; we're still trying to chase down a phone number. The original Bleu Monkey Grill is at 4263 Central Ave, Hot Springs -- (501) 520-4800;;

Several readers have reported seeing a "now hiring" sign outside the Zaxby's at 104 Carnahan Drive in Maumelle, which closed about a year ago, along with the Zaxby's at 208 Brookswood Road, Sherwood. It has been leading to speculation that the Maumelle outlet, at least, is expected to reopen, which would be consistent with a Jan. 15 report in Arkansas Business that four Pulaski County Zaxby's restaurants, including those two, recently changed hands.

GOAT Mediterranean Grill has opened at 228 Cornerstone Blvd., Hot Springs, formerly Little Italy, a "sister location" for the Spa City's Santorini Greek Restaurant, 1018 Airport Road, Hot Springs. The extensive menu includes nearly a dozen appetizers -- fried calamari, GOAT bruschetta, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), chicken wings, a Mediterranean frittura (the fried seafood platter, $19.99, includes calamari, shrimp and arancini with marinara and tzatziki sauces), Twisted Feta, homemade Italian meatballs and falafel; gyros and shawarmas; paninis and burgers; and a range of house specialties, including rack of lamb, pork belly platter, Paella Valenciana, Mediterranean Bouyourdi (beef slices slow cooked with onion, roasted bell peppers, tomato sauce, fresh garlic and feta cheese), stuffed eggplant, lamb chops, Lasagna Bolognese, spaghetti shrimp pesto, salmon, a couple of steaks, plus the Tour of Spain Platter (pork belly, grilled shrimp, side of mussels cooked in red wine spicy tomato sauce). Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. (501) 359-3289;

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Burnt End BBQ, with restaurants in Kansas City, Mo., and Overland Park, Kan., has a third outlet on the blocks for 1025 S. Amity Road, Conway, in what used to be a Red Robin. The menu features, as you might expect, burnt brisket ends, plus brisket, smoked turkey, chopped beef, pulled pork, ribs and sausage. Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. (501) 499-8005;

And speaking of Conway, Pulse of Conway ( reports Seven Oaks Steak & Seafood has a February target to open in the Halter Building, 125 Oak St. The owner is Chad McReynolds, general manager of the Cherokee Casino & Hotel Roland in Roland, Okla.; the publication explains that he has been involved in Conway for several years through Toad Suck Daze. The executive chef is Todd Duplantis, a Louisiana native and veteran of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marines who, according to the online article, has more than 30 years of experience in hospitality, including 10 years as an executive chef. His menu will represent "Arkansas Delta fusion with Cajun flair," and will feature custom-cut steaks to-order "and some unique seafood and dessert dishes." McReynolds says they'll be sourcing their beef from cattle ranchers in Oklahoma and Arkansas, including his own Seven Oaks meat processing and farm in Sallisaw, Okla., with seafood from the Gulf and using, as much as possible, Arkansas produce.

And still speaking of Conway, Little Italy Italian Kitchen, a food truck, has set up shop at 1000 Morningside Drive. The menu features a range of pasta items, including ravioli, lasagna and spaghetti; the Facebook page ( has a lovely photo of Pasta Julietta, bacon-wrapped shrimp over fettucine Alfredo. Hours: 10:45 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9 PM Monday-Friday, 10:45 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday. (501) 697-1799.

Meanwhile, we're told a couple of chains are planning Conway locations: Chuy's, with its third Central Arkansas restaurant in the works at 600 S. Amity Road, in the Lewis Ranch development, and Chipotle Mexican Grill, with a second Conway location pending at 2885 Prince St.

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Cypress Social, 7103 Cock of the Walk Lane, off Maumelle Boulevard, on the North Little Rock side of Maumelle, is offering a five-course Valentine's Day dinner, "curated" by executive chef Aaron Fowler and pastry chef Sara Horton that will include a choice of chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped smoked quail legs or lobster toast; strawberry orange salad or she crab soup; Norwegian halibut, elk chop, scallops with leeks and mushroom risotto or a Surf & Turf (6-ounce filet and citrus grilled shrimp); and, for dessert, "Roses Are Red" (red velvet cake, cream cheese cremeux, meringue, white chocolate, chocolate croquants, dark chocolate sauce) or "Violets Are Blue" (blueberry lemon butterfly pea cheesecake, blueberries, berry gelee, walnut crumble). Cost is $95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are required; call (501) 916-2670 or email

(Want information on your Valentine's Day dinner included herein? Send details to the email address below.)

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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