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Restaurant Transitions: KFC in west Little Rock rebuilding; Macaroni Grill closed; Saltgrass Steak House opens

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Photographs by Democrat-Gazette file photo

Romano's Macaroni Grill on W. Markham

Foundation construction appears to have gotten underway in 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. We reported in June that KFC Rock LLC, an Edmond, Okla., firm that spent almost $1.2 million last month to buy the lot, had filed a plumbing permit with the state Health Department, but the site had been idle since. We've also encountered some confusion based on a Daylight Donuts banner that has been hanging on the fencing; that business opened around April 1 in the building next door at 102 Markham Park Drive. Little Rock has been without a KFC since the fire; fans of its fried chicken and other fare have been driving considerable distances -- closest locations include 4400 Camp Robinson, North Little Rock; 8350 Warden Road, Sherwood; and 20704 Arkansas 365 North, just off the Morgan-Maumelle exit of Interstate 40, Maumelle.

A few blocks east, Arkansas' only Romano's Macaroni Grill, 11100 W. Markham St., Little Rock, has closed. The phone number, (501) 221-3150, returns a voicemail message from a gentleman who "regret[s] to inform you that this restaurant is closed," and directs location queries to the website -- macaronigrill.com, which doesn't show any other location closer than the Dallas metro area. An email blast also went out to regular customers thanking them "for all the good times" and announcing, simply, "We are sorry to say our Little Rock location has closed." The restaurant opened in 1994. The chain went through several changes of ownership before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October.

And around the corner, in the Colonnade Shopping Center, 315 N. Bowman Road, Little Rock, Heritage Catering will open on or about March 1 in the storefront previously occupied by Lulu's Latin Rotisserie & Grill. The owners are Kim Henderson, whose hospitality industry credits include working for Aramark, operations manager at Simply the Best Catering and purchasing manager at Ben E. Keith Foods, and Shane Henderson, Ben E. Keith's executive chef (and formerly of Argenta Market). They'll start out doing off-premise catering for weddings and social events, and delivering lunches. Also, Kim Henderson says, eventually they'll offer a retail storefront with grab-and-go options. You'll be able to order online at their website, heritagecateringar.com. The phone number is (501) 920-5241; the Facebook page, facebook.com/heritagecateringAR.

Construction appears poised to begin on the Taco Bueno in the parking lot at 9101 W. Markham St. at John Barrow Road, Little Rock. An $800,000 building permit request has been filed with the city Planning & Development department and, we're told, a space in the lot has been fenced off.

The Fold: Botanas and Bar, 3501 Old Cantrell Road, in Little Rock's Riverdale neighborhood, is closed temporarily, through at least next Tuesday, for renovations to the kitchen and bar areas, according to the restaurant's Facebook page, facebook.com/TheFoldBar. The phone number is (501) 916-9706.

Today is the official opening of the Saltgrass Steak House's Little Rock outlet, 10 Anglers Way, Little Rock, near the Bass Pro Shop. Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 Friday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 407-0643. "Spring 2018" is still the indefinite but official target date for the opening of a second central Arkansas outlet at 6040 Warden Road, where North Little Rock meets Sherwood.

The Eat My Catfish minichain will add a fourth location, with a sometime-in-March target opening, in the McCain Plaza Shopping Center, 4216 E. McCain Blvd., North Little Rock, next to Dick's Sporting Goods. It will have the same menu -- farm-raised catfish, crab legs, shrimp and, in season (usually mid-February to early summer), crawfish -- as the existing locations in west Little Rock, Conway and Benton. Construction is expected to begin in about two weeks. The website is EatMyCatfish.com.

Loblolly Creamery, 1423 Main St., Little Rock, opens early (9 a.m.) to mark National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day -- and yes, apparently that's a real thing -- Saturday. Through noon, they'll be serving cereal sundaes, coffee and ice cream sandwiches and sundaes made with Will's Cinnamon Shop cinnamon rolls. Customers who show up in their pajamas (the Facebook page, facebook.com/events/146349922830263, advises, "Actual pjs ... not 'I sleep in my clothes!'") get free coffee or hot cocoa. The phone number is (501) 396-9609; the website, loblollycreamery.com.

And speaking of frozen treats, on Tuesday, to mark National Frozen Yogurt Day, TCBY will hand out free 6-ounce portions of frozen yogurt -- only one per person, please -- all day "to give back to loyal fans and have some frozen fun," according to a news release. There are four central Arkansas outlets: Lakewood Village, 2600 Lakewood Village Plaza, North Little Rock; 11418 W. Markham St., Little Rock; 3900 Dave Ward Drive, Conway; and 1340 Higdon Ferry Road, Hot Springs, plus locations in Rogers and Harrison. Visit tcby.com.

Shorty Small's, 11100 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, will show off the results of its extensive renovations with a "grand re-opening" ribbon-cutting ceremony, in concert with the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, 2 p.m. Feb. 8. The renovations include moving all of the dining areas to the front of the restaurant, allowing for an expansion of the kitchen, and repositioning the entrance, which used to face Rodney Parham but now fronts on Arkansas Valley Drive. It's the building's first full revamp since it opened as Li'l Cajun's in 1980. Hours are 11 a.m-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 224-3344; the website, shortysmalls.com.

And speaking of renovations, that's the explanation, or at least part of the explanation, for the closure of the Dunkin' Donuts, 6805 Cantrell Road, Little Rock. The building is now covered with signs that weren't there before indicating that it is becoming a Dunkin/Baskin Robbins hybrid. The phone number, (501) 404-0083, produces only a rapid busy signal.

Sid Welch of Charlotte, N.C.-based developer Collett, property manager for the Lewis Crossing shopping center, 1025 S. Amity Road off Dave Ward Drive and Interstate 40 in Conway, reports a Feb. 12 target opening date for the Red Robin Gourmet Burgers there. There's not a listed phone number as yet.

Meanwhile, Shelli Poole's "My Saline" blog (mysaline.com) reports permit delays have held up construction of the Red Robin outlet in progress at The Shoppes of Benton, along Interstate 30 in Benton. But it's coming sooner or later, she says.

The Hot Springs Sentinel-Record has listed a license application for $20,000 for interior remodeling to turn the former Tuscany Italian Grill, 1609 Albert Pike Road, Hot Springs, into Ai Sushi & Grill. There has also been a recent filing with the state Health Department for a plan review.

Midnight Sunday is the deadline to nominate a deserving teacher at an Arkansas pre-K-12 public or private school for Hideaway Pizza's 2018 Teacher Appizziation Awards. The Tulsa-based chain, with Arkansas outlets in North Little Rock and Conway, will pick 12 teachers to win a $600 gift card, which, though the winners can use them any way they choose, will be sufficient, if they're thrifty, to buy one small, single-topping pizza every week for a year. Make your nominations at hideawaypizza.com. Winners will be notified on or before Feb. 14.

And this public service message: Feb. 14, generally known as Valentine's Day, falls on a Wednesday this year, and if you're planning a romantic dinner anywhere that evening, it'd be a good idea to make reservations sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, if your restaurant is offering some kind of special deal, menu, food specials, drink specials, etc., or if it isn't usually open on Wednesday evenings but will be open on Valentine's Day, please give us a head's up and we'll pass the information along to our readers Feb. 8. Deadline is noon Monday. Email eharrison@arkansasonline.com.

The one head's up we've already received: B-Side Bistro in the Market Place Shopping Center, 11121 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, which is usually only open 8 a.m.-2 p.m., will be serving a special "Romantic Supper" menu, 6-10 p.m. By reservation only. Call (501) 716-2700.

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

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In this 2017 file photo Little Rock firefighters revisit the KFC at 100 Markham Park Drive checking for any rekindling afte... + Enlarge







Weekend on 02/01/2018

Comments

Jfish says...

Are you kidding me, people actually drive for KFC chicken? I thought the Popeyes across the street on Markham had put them out of business, not too difficult to do, better chicken and alot better service. Sorry, but KFC is just not what it used to be.

Posted 1 February 2018, 1:12 p.m. Suggest removal

kam213 says...

What is going in on Markham, on the corner near Wendy's?

Posted 1 February 2018, 1:53 p.m. Suggest removal

Trailop says...

Finally, NLR getting something new and not another burger or taco place. You do know that Lone Star Steakhouse will be the new home where Sears Automotive shop on McCain is now? It's closed. yep

Posted 1 February 2018, 2:50 p.m. Suggest removal

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