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Restaurant Transitions: Cantina set for former Jerky's site; Aloha Poke now Ohia Poke

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We now have a partial handle on what's going into the former Jerky's Spicy Chicken and More space, 521 Center St., Little Rock: It'll be a downtown outlet for Cantina Cinco De Mayo, a growing mini chain that also has two other Little Rock restaurants, on Rahling Circle and on Stagecoach Road, plus one in Bryant and one pending in Benton.

Meanwhile, next door, at 523 Center, we're still trying to nail down the details on the pending sale, expected to have been finalized Monday, of EJ's Eats & Drinks. The sellers include Jim Miners and Kristi Pruett; the buyers, reportedly but not yet confirmed, are the people who run Old Mill Bread & Flour Co.

Meanwhile, we have updates regarding the two poke restaurants opening in downtown Little Rock:

• Tuesday is now the target opening date, pending Health Department and city inspections, and the name has changed for what so far has been called Aloha Poke. (That's POH-ke, a trendy Hawaiian bowl centering on raw sushi-grade fish with a variety of side items). It's in the former home of Lulav and The Veg, 220 W. Sixth St., Little Rock, and the new name is Ohia Poke. The change is the result of an agreement with Zach Friedlander, managing partner of the Chicago-based Aloha Poke Co. chain (alohapokeco.com), who had expressed concerns that the restaurant, which is not affiliated with his operation, would run afoul of his international trademark and would have to spend "massive amounts of money on signage and printed items." Hours will be 10 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. The restaurant phone number will be (501) 502-6330.

• Meanwhile, its River Market District competitor, Poke Hula is expected to open sometime in the next week or two, not at 425 E. Third St., an address initially -- and incorrectly -- provided by Facebook (facebook.com/pokehula), but at 419 E. Third St., the former Blue Canoe kitchen space/Taco Beer Burrito location. The Facebook page also provides a sneak peek at the menu, expected operating hours (10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday) and a web address (pokehulaar.com). As of our deadline, we've still been unable to reach anybody at the listed phone number, (501) 246-3368.

Dust Bowl Lanes & Lounge, 315 E. Capitol Ave., a retro bowling alley with a bar, opened Tuesday. In addition to eight lanes, a karaoke room and private lounge, it has a full bar and a menu that includes burgers, hot dogs, onion rings and shakes. Tentative hours, says general manager Rich Bielefeld, will be 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Friday, noon-1 a.m. Saturday, noon-midnight Sunday. The phone number is (501) 353-0775. Meanwhile, on or about Feb. 1 is the target to open the next-door Fassler Hall, a German beer garden. Both businesses are owned by the Tulsa-based McNellie's Restaurant Group.

The cafe side of Wee Betty's Cafe, 9 Crestview Plaza, Jacksonville, has apparently closed; the market side, which sells food and drink imports from Great Britain, will close near the end of the month, giving way to an online shop, according to this New Year's Day post on its Facebook page (facebook.com/WeeBettysCafe): "It is with heavy heart that we have decided to close the cafe permanently near the end of January, but we will be doing an online shop." Citing personal and financial difficulties, general manager Cathie Clark, part owner with her daughter, Nicola O'Hara, says they're planning to return to their native Scotland. As of Wednesday, the retail side will be open noon-4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, noon-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, and "over the next three weeks we will be selling off equipment, stock and fixtures, plus some household electric appliances." Facebook now lists the phone number as (501) 508-3521.

Jimmy Weisman, owner and namesake of Jimmy's Serious Sandwiches, 5116 W. Markham St., Little Rock, is in talks with the Central Arkansas Library System about taking over the cafe space in the Cox Creative Center, 120 River Market Ave. on the Main Library campus and operate it as a second Jimmy's location. A library system spokesman says if everything comes together as planned, minor remodeling will take several weeks and the place will open sometime before spring.

We haven't seen any previous notice anywhere on the sale of Cupcakes on Kavanaugh, 5625 Kavanaugh Blvd., in Little Rock's Pulaski Heights, so this may qualify as breaking news even though, according to broker CBI of Central Arkansas, the change in ownership took place Nov. 30. Christy Milligan, who founded the bakery in 2008, sold the business to Marcie and Michael Apel, who are expected to maintain it at its present location.

Meanwhile, Springdale-based CBI is also brokering the sale of a "growing restaurant chain with two prime locations" that "nets [more than] $1.3 million. Great management team already in place for new buyer. This well established popular and service oriented dining concept includes prime real estate with unique architecture." Want more details? Visit bizbuy.cbiteam.com/n960-tt.

And back to cupcakes, Arkansas Online is reporting that, according to a Facebook post, Fat Bottomed Girl's Cupcake Shoppe, 120 Central Ave., Hot Springs, will open a second location at 11 North Block Ave. in downtown Fayetteville in March. The shop was featured on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars series; the new location will offer more than 20 flavors of cupcakes, 30 flavors of ice cream and 20 flavors of fresh-spun cotton candy, gourmet candies and "a stellar gift shop area."

The new-ish DQ Grill & Chill, 6100 W. 12th St., Little Rock, is appreciating its fans by offering "1/2 off everything at DQ" Jan. 17. Visit the Facebook event page, tinyurl.com/DQhalf. The restaurant phone number is (501) 661-8171.

The Flying Burger & Seafood of Caddo Valley, 167 Valley St., Caddo Valley, a branch office of The Flying Burger, which has outlets in Magnolia, El Dorado and Ruston, La., was scheduled to open as planned Wednesday. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. The phone number is (870) 230-1409. Get a look at the menu on the Facebook page, facebook.com/The-Flying-Burger-114791311894060.

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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Jimmy Weisman’s award-winning Garden of Eatin’ sandwich (with barley vegetable soup) at Jimmy’s Serious Sandwiches on Little ... + Enlarge

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Large and small poke bowls will be among the offerings at Ohia Poke (formerly Aloha Poke), opening soon on West Sixth Street ... + Enlarge







Weekend on 01/04/2018

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