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Restaurant Transitions: Potbelly sets opening in downtown Little Rock; KFC looks to rebuild, permit shows

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Photographs by Democrat-Gazette file photo

So Restaurant-Bar in Little Rock’s Hillcrest has for the second year in a row earned two glasses, “Best of Award of Excellence” honors, from Wine Spectator magazine for its extensive wine list.

Aug. 1 is the new target for the opening of the downtown Potbelly Sandwich Shop, in part of the former Cheers on Broadway space in the lobby of the Lyon Building, 401 W. Capitol Ave., Little Rock (the shorter building, housing U.S. Bank, next to the much bigger Simmons Bank Tower). It's the second central Arkansas outlet for owner-franchisee Ryan Hamra -- the first is in the Park Avenue shopping center, 314 S. University Ave., Little Rock -- and he'll add breakfast to the menu, which at lunch and after will include sandwiches, soups, salads, shakes, etc. Hours will be 7 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays. The phone number is (501) 747-1297. Hamra has said he plans to open three more shops in central and Northwest Arkansas in the next couple of years.

Nearby, in the Simmons Bank Building, 425 W. Capitol Ave. at Broadway, Little Rock, the folks that run Banana Leaf Indian Cuisine are back from vacation and open once again. Hours are 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday. The phone number: (501) 227-0860.

Beautiful KreationZ Homestyle Cooking has opened in the diner at 250 E. Military Road, North Little Rock, at MacArthur, formerly the home of Gail's Diner, Hunka Pie and Starlite Diner. Hours are 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (501) 313-5969.

The opening of Southern Table, formerly Kent's Artisan Cheese, 323 S. Cross St., Little Rock, is awaiting the end of the permitting process, according to a recent post on owner Margie Raimondo's Facebook page. Raimondo, also owner of Raimondo Winery in Mountain Home, is planning a tapas-style "boards and bites" menu of "food meant to be shared," according to the establishment's Facebook page -- primarily charcuterie boards featuring seasonal cheeses and cured meats, local beers and Raimondo wines. An outdoor bistro area will complement indoor seating. The phone number is listed as (501) 366-9817.

Owner-chef Ira Mittelman, who is moving what used to be Ira's Park Hill Grill from North Little Rock's Park Hill to the old Rose Building, 307 Main St., Little Rock, where it will be known simply as Ira's -- after a series of delays connected to financing and building permits -- says construction has finally gotten underway and he's looking at a Nov. 1 target to open. (Meanwhile, he has been spending his summer running a one-man Italian restaurant and wine bar on an Idaho lakeside.) The building being on the National Historic Registry, he says, has caused any number of headaches, but "it's worth it when you look at that building." Mittelman's neighbors on the block include Bruno's Little Italy, Soul Fish Cafe and Samantha's Woodfired Grill & Tap Room. The menu will differ from the one at his Park Hill location, "but it'll still be my food"; he's looking to open for lunch and dinner six days a week, with an appetizer happy hour and possibly a "reverse happy hour" after 10 p.m. on weekends -- "I might try that on Friday and Saturday nights," he says. "I'm not committed to it." He'll probably close on Sunday.

Honey Pies, 315 N. Bowman Road, Little Rock, is now selling boxed lunches, including chicken salad, ham, and pimento cheese sandwiches, accompanied by chips and fruit. Hours are 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. The phone number is (501) 613-7950.

Wine Spectator magazine has released its 2017 list of Restaurant Awards, recognizing the world's best wine lists. There are six Arkansas establishments on this year's list, four of them winners of the lowest-level, one-glass Award of Excellence, recognizing restaurants with wine lists featuring "a well-chosen assortment of quality producers": Little Rock restaurants -- Copper Grill, 300 E. Third St.; Anderson's Cajun's Wharf, 2400 Cantrell Road; and Del Frisco's Grille, 17707 Chenal Parkway -- and Camden's Postmasters Grill, 133 W. Washington St. Two high-end Little Rock places -- So Restaurant-Bar, 3610 Kavanaugh Blvd., and Arthur's Prime Steakhouse, 27 Rahling Circle -- received the two-glass Best of Award of Excellence honors, which offer "more extensive selections with significant vintage depth and excellent breadth across multiple regions." Five restaurants on the 2016 list have dropped off -- Ciao Baci, 605 N. Beechwood St., and Capers, 14502 Cantrell Road, in Little Rock; Bordino's Restaurant and Wine Bar and Vetro 1925 in Fayetteville; and the River Grille Steakhouse in Bentonville. See the full national list at restaurants.winespectator.com. The magazine's Aug. 31 print issue will be on newsstands Tuesday.

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Ace Business section reporter David Smith's Sunday Real Estate Transactions column was chock-full of nuggets involving the sale of central Arkansas restaurant properties.

Last month, Self Properties, a limited liability company in Los Angeles, bought the Starbucks, 105 Commons Drive, Maumelle, from Allen Kushynski and the Kushynski Family Trust, for almost $1.7 million. The seller had bought it for slightly more than $1.1 million in 2009.

• Also last month, CJK Apartments LLC-HEK Investments LLC, a La Palma, Calif., firm, bought the Hardee's, 8703 Geyer Springs Road in southwest Little Rock, for $1.4 million from Big Rock LLC, which got a sizable return on the $350,000 it paid for the restaurant in August. It originally was a Wendy's, owned by the late Gerald Hamra of Little Rock, one of the country's most successful Wendy's operators (and father to Ryan Hamra mentioned at the beginning of the column).

• And KFC Rock LLC, an Edmond, Okla., firm, spent almost $1.2 million last month to buy the lot at 100 Markham Park Drive, Little Rock, which had been the home of Little Rock's sole remaining KFC outlet before a March fire destroyed it. The previous owner, Mumtaz Tabbassum, bought the restaurant in May 2016 for $839,000. A plumbing permit was filed Monday with the Arkansas Department of Health indicating plans to rebuild it.

And speaking of KFC, we'd love to give you an update on the corporate headquarters of Bullocks Kentucky Fried Chicken Inc. and possibly also a KFC restaurant 5015 S. University Ave., Little Rock, site of the former University Car Wash (and before that several auto dealers), but the listed phone -- (501) 562-9210 -- is still not a working number. The late John Bullock of Bryant was a KFC franchisee for 50 years. A little internet research turns up a Jessie Bullock, listed on LinkedIn as "owner at Bullock's KFC, Little Rock, Arkansas Area."

And if, in the meanwhile, you're looking for an active KFC (and we do get regular queries), clicking on the "Find a colonel near you" link at the website, kfc.com, reveals these remaining central Arkansas locations:

• 4400 Camp Robinson, North Little Rock, (501) 758-9577

• 8350 Warden Road, Sherwood, (501) 835-5570

• 20704 Arkansas 365 N., Maumelle, (501) 851-0111

• 116 Bryant Ave., Bryant, (501) 847-6094

• 522 N. East St., Benton, (501) 778-4343

• 1003 W. Main St., Cabot, (501) 843-3420

• 1690 N. Center St., Lonoke, (501) 676-7826

• 2670 Donaghey St., Conway, (501) 336-8440

• 2326 W. Center St., Beebe, (501) 882-5326

• 401 N. Blake St., Pine Bluff, (870) 534-9000

• 2707 W. 28th St., Pine Bluff, (870) 534-8000

• 3002 Pines Mall Drive, Pine Bluff, (870) 535-0980

• 141 E. Grand Ave., Hot Springs, (501) 623-2947

• 4010 Central Ave., Hot Springs, (501) 624-6363

• 114 Airport Road, Hot Springs, (501) 321-1500

• 2504 E. Race St., Searcy, (501) 268-3607

• 1715 Arkansas 25 N., Heber Springs, (501) 362-5509

• 1333 U.S. 65 S., Clinton, (501) 745-6300

• 720 N. Arkansas Ave., Russellville, (479) 968-1568

• 921 Clinton St., Arkadelphia, (870) 246-6149.

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In the Spa City:

• A new food truck, In the Raw Test Kitchen & Juice Bar, has hit the streets in Hot Springs, providing gourmet raw cuisine and cold-pressed juices and "blenders." You can find it, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesdays at the 910 Park Avenue Food Court and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the 70 West Food Court, 1370 Airport Road. Find its location on "Roaming Thursdays" -- could be anywhere in Hot Springs or even elsewhere in the state -- via the "Follow the Food Truck" app or at the website, intherawtestkitchen.com. Find the menu at intherawtestkitchen.com/menu.html. Call (501) 545-7780.

Owner Manuel De La Paz announced via a news release in Monday's Hot Springs Sentinel Record (and also via the restaurant's Facebook page) the closing, effective June 25, of the Hot Springs Mall location of Don Juan's Mexican Bar & Grill, 4501 Central Ave., Hot Springs. The announcement thanks customers and employees "for your support, loyalty and kindness" over the past eight years. Meanwhile, the hours at Don Juan's other outlet, in the Indiandale Shopping Center, 1534 Malvern Ave., Suite N, Hot Springs, are expanding, now 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (501) 620-4140; the website is donjuangrill.com. (We also note the existence of a Don Juan Authentic Mexican Restaurant, 1311 Albert Pike Road, Hot Springs, which appears to not be related.)

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. Call (501) 399-3667 or (501) 378-3513, or send a note to Restaurants, Weekend Section, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, Ark. 72203. Send email to:

eharrison@arkansasonline.com

Weekend on 07/13/2017

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