Photographs by Hot Springs Sentinel-Record file photo
McClard’s Bar-B-Q is now a member of the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame.
Thursday, March 8, 2018
In case you missed this news last week, Kavion Wang has sold Fantastic China Chinese Cuisine, 1900 N. Grant St., in Little Rock's Heights neighborhood, to the owners of a consortium of restaurants that also includes Little Rock Chinese restaurants Fu Lin, 200 N. Bowman Road, and Mr. Chen's Authentic Chinese Cooking, 3901 S. University Ave. The sale closed last month. Wang says working seven days a week has finally gotten to be too much for her after 22-plus years and she's looking to slow down and devote more time to writing and to "playing my guitar." She says the new owners plan no changes to the menu or decor, which have contributed to the restaurant ranking high in various annual reader polls and remaining a customer favorite. She'll stay with the restaurant for the time being to help ease the transition.
Wang, who had worked for Forbidden City (now Forbidden Garden after it moved out of Park Plaza and reopened on Cantrell Road west of Interstate 430), opened Fantastic China late in 1995 with the former chef of the long-defunct Hunan on South University Avenue. It expanded in 1998 into the next-door Grant Street space that had previously been Bards. The restaurant phone number: (501) 663-8999.
Fassler Hall opened Sunday at 311 E. Capitol Ave., Little Rock. The restaurant, in a building that once housed a graphic design company, features two-story floor-to-ceiling windows, an 85-foot wooden bar counter and a fenced-in beer garden that provides patrons unobstructed views of the downtown skyline. It's the first Arkansas outlet for the Tulsa-based McNellie's Group mini-chain, which has locations in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, and also operates the next-door Dust Bowl Lanes and Lounge, a retro-style bowling alley and restaurant at 315 E. Capitol. The menu, similar but not identical to the one in Oklahoma City, includes a variety of house-made sausages, fattening appetizers, schnitzel sandwiches and a burger, a handful of German entrees and, for 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday brunch, a selection of breakfast tacos, biscuit sandwiches and waffles. "After we get through a successful opening, we're excited to let our talented culinary crew start experimenting with items specific to the Little Rock location," adds a McNellie's Group spokesman. There's a monster list of German and local craft beers, including several that have not made previous appearances in this market, plus wine and cocktails. Hours are 11 a.m.-"at least" 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday. The phone number: (501) 246-4757; the website, fasslerhall.com; and the Facebook page: facebook.com/FasslerHallLR.
We now have confirmation that there is a Purple Cow in the works outside McCain Mall: A news release says the stand-alone restaurant at 4201 Warden Road in the Dillard's parking lot will open this fall. Purple Cow President Ken Vaughan promises beer on tap and a signature cocktail, joining the limited menu of adult milkshakes at all the other locations -- two in Little Rock, on West Cantrell Road and Chenal Parkway, and at the Village at Hendrix in Conway and on Higdon Ferry Road in Hot Springs. Visit purplecowlr.com. The Purple Cow will join an outlet of Conway-based mini-chain Tacos 4 Life on the Dillard's lot at the mall's entrance from Warden Road entrance (the west-side service road for U.S. 67/167).
Anita's Cantina & Grill is now open in the former Applebee's, 6 Mabelvale Plaza Lane, Little Rock. The extensive menu, in addition to a goodly list of nachos, appetizers and salads, seafood dishes and "Famous Authentic Fajitas," includes "Cantina Favorites," "Anita's Favorites" and "Anita's House Specials." Hours are 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-11 p.m. or midnight (depending on late-night customer volume) Friday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 529-8190.
Casey's Bar-B-Q managing member David Henry is not a happy camper after a meeting with city inspectors, who, having initially approved his building plans, are now requiring him to move his barbecue pit. That extends his timeline to open in the former Arkansas Burger Company building, 7410 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, probably by at least another couple of weeks. Casey's was a favorite before its Reservoir Road location closed in 2005 and its resurrection, judging from Facebook posts, is eagerly awaited. The listed phone number: (501) 615-8522.
One of our eagle-eyed correspondents spotted a sign in the western annex of the Pleasant Ridge Town Center, 11600 Pleasant Ridge Road, Little Rock, revealing that the long-vacant erstwhile Market Place Grill/Johnny Carino's space will house is something called Juicy Seafood. The Juicy Seafood and Steakhouse LLC's incorporation information from the state Secretary of State's office (tinyurl.com/y99npgdo) hint, from the names of the officers (Jingdong Li, "incorporator/organizer," and Dongjin Huang, managing member and registering agent) that it might have an Asian accent of some kind. As far as we can tell, however, it has no link to The Juicy Seafood, a local fast-casual seafood establishment in Savannah, Ga. (thejuicyseafood.com).
Sunday, we're told, was the last night of business for the Ruby Tuesday outlet at 23236 Interstate 30, Bryant, according to Google, which lists it as "Permanently Closed"; to Shelli Poole's MySaline.com blog; according, by omission, to the chain's website, rubytuesday.com/locations, which lists restaurants in Russellville, Jonesboro and Texarkana but no longer the one in Bryant; and according, it appears, to the phone company -- the number, (501) 653-2500, hasn't apparently yet been disconnected but returns only a rapid busy signal. The restaurant moved from Little Rock's Park Plaza to Bryant in 2002.
Franke's Cafeteria in Little Rock, McClard's Bar-B-Q in Hot Springs and The Venesian Inn in Tontitown make up the second class of Arkansas establishments to enter the Department of Arkansas Heritage's Arkansas Food Hall of Fame. The announcement came at a reception and induction ceremony Tuesday at Little Rock's Ron Robinson Theater. An 11-member selection committee of restaurateurs, chefs and foodies selected Mary Beth Ringgold, owner-chef of Little Rock restaurant troika Cajun's Wharf, Capers and Copper Grill, as Proprietor of the Year, and the Gillett Coon Supper as the winner for Food-Themed Events. Fire-felled Cotham's Mercantile in Scott was the winner in the Gone But Not Forgotten category; the People's Choice Award went to JJ's Lakeside Cafe in Lake Village.
Tear-down has begun on the former Shogun Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar, 2815 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, which closed in April, eventually due to become a 2,300-square-foot Starbucks. The site plan calls for 23 parking spaces and landscaping as a sound buffer for hilltop neighbors
Conversely, construction is nearing completion on the Popeyes at 4900 W. Markham St. at Monroe Street, Little Rock. We're trying to track down a target opening date.
In a former salon at 2622 Kavanaugh Blvd., Abbi's Teas and Things is selling tea, scones, muffins, cookies and the occasional slice of pie, plus sandwiches from Old Mill Bread, plus teaware, jewelry and gifts. Hours are 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (501) 246-5077; the website: abbiteas.com.
We somehow missed the opening of Cinnamon Creme Bakery, in the Centre at Chenal shopping center, 17200 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, from the owners of the venerable Country Village Oven Bakery in Star City. Hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 821-0002.
And speaking of bakeries, The Majestic Cafe and Bakery, named in part for the hotel felled by fire in 2014 and demolished in 2016, is pending at 250 Park Ave., Hot Springs (former tenants include Quarters Cafe and Spa City Doughnuts). They've missed their original target opening date, Feb. 27, the date the hotel caught fire in 2014. Co-owners Brenda Brandenburg and Wally Mueller (who once worked in his dad's Mueller's Bakery) are billing it as "Hot Springs' only gluten-free bakery and cafe. Everything we serve is gluten-free, no risk of cross contamination. Some sugar-free, some lactose-free." We're told the decor will feature Majestic memorabilia. Hours will be 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. We couldn't get an answer at the listed phone number, (501) 463-4747.
Chef Erin Rowe, author of An Ozark Culinary History: Northwest Arkansas Traditions From Corn Dodgers to Squirrel Meatloaf, will discuss cooking techniques, old stories and recipes from the Ozarks, supplemented by historic 1800s-era photography, in "An Ozark Culinary History," the March Brown Bag Lunch Lecture, noon-1 p.m. at the Old State House Museum, 300 W. Markham St., Little Rock. Admission is free. Attendees provide their own lunches; the museum provides soft drinks and water. Call (501) 324-9685, email email@example.com or visit oldstatehouse.com.
Help save monarch butterflies, honey bees and other pollinators by eating pizza? Sign us up. The Tulsa-based Hideaway Pizza chain, with Arkansas outlets in North Little Rock and Conway, is giving 10 percent proceeds of sales of "The Pollinator," a honey-drizzled specialty pizza on the menu through May 14, going toward "Okies for Monarchs," with a goal of preserving habitat for pollinators, including the monarch butterfly and the honey bee. The pizza features an olive-oil-and-garlic glaze, pepperoni, spicy capicola, salami and banana peppers atop fresh mozzarella with a parmesan-herb shake, then drizzled with honey. Cost? $10.25 (10 inch) to $21.45 (16-inch). Visit hideawaypizza.com.
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:
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