The Mexico Chiquito on Cantrell Road has closed its doors.
The Juicy Seafood is now set to open Monday in the western annex of the Pleasant Ridge Town Center, 11600 Pleasant Ridge Road, Little Rock, in what had previously been Market Place Grill and, before that, Johnny Carino's. If you've eaten at LuLu's Crab Boil in the Heights, the concept will be familiar, though with a somewhat broader menu: Choose your seafood -- crawfish, steamed oysters, crab legs, shrimp (with or without the heads), clams, mussels or lobster tail, which comes with corn or potatoes; choose your flavor -- Cajun, lemon pepper, garlic butter or "The Shake Sauce" (all of the above); pick a "spicy level" -- mild, medium or hot. Additional side items, soups, appetizers and fried-seafood baskets are also available. Hours are to be noon-2:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday for lunch; for dinner, 4:30-10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4:30-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; noon-10:30 p.m. Sunday. The phone numbers: (501) 353-1370 or visit the Facebook page, facebook.com/JuicySeafoodLtRock.
Operating Manager Leslie Case says Monday will also be the opening day for Sauce(d) Bar and Oven, in the former Casa Real/Cici's Pizza space in the Market Place Shopping Center, 11121 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock. The bar and upscale pizzeria will serve wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, gourmet burgers, sandwiches, a few entrees, soups, salads and charcuterie, initially 4-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday (the bar will open at 3); they'll open for lunch within the month, Case says, with eventual plans to serve Saturday-Sunday brunch. The bar will have 12 wines and 23 craft beers on tap, according to the Facebook page, facebook.com/saucedlr. The listed phone number is (501) 353-1534.
A sign on the Mexico Chiquito at 13924 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, says "This location is closed," and according to the recording we got when we dialed the listed number, (501) 217-0700, it is "not a working number." A check of the website, mexicochiquito.net, shows remaining locations at 4511 Camp Robinson Road, North Little Rock -- (501) 771-1604; 1135 Skyline Drive, Conway -- (501) 205-1985; and the "Mex-To-Go," 11406 W. Markham St., Little Rock -- (501) 217-0647.
Cathead's Diner, 515 Shall Ave., Little Rock, is still a couple of weeks short of opening to the public, says Kelli Marks, the executive pastry chef and partner in the enterprise with chef Donnie Ferneau Jr. They're still in the process of getting inspections and permits. Marks says she's looking forward to testing recipes in the actual kitchen -- "I've been making doughnuts out of my house with a Fry Daddy." The restaurant will have a week's worth of soft openings to stress-test the kitchen, plus two events for nonprofits before opening to the public. One of the events is apparently serving breakfast to the participants in Metroplan's Bike to Work Day Rally, 7:30 a.m. Friday at the Old State House Museum, 300 W. Markham St., Little Rock -- visit ditchthekeys.com for information and registration forms. The menu will feature upscale Southern comfort food serving all-day breakfast, and diners will have a choice for anything listed on the menu as a sandwich to have it on a namesake cathead biscuit, Texas toast or a doughnut. The website, catheadsdiner.com, flashes photos of menu items that include fried and roasted chicken, beef tenderloin, a pulled pork sandwich, Clover's pink lemonade pie ("named after my grandmother," Marks says) and a sticky-bun skillet. Their liquor license is already in place. Hours, still tentative, will be 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. brunch Saturday-Sunday, and Ferneau, with connections to culinary luminaries around the country, is looking to pull in guest chefs for specialty, book-in-advance weekend dinners with special menus. The phone number, for the moment, is (501) 613-7780 .
Following our report last week on the apparent demise of the J. Gumbo's in the Centre at Ten center, 12911 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, we got a call from a reader wanting to know what's up with the other central Arkansas location of the chain-franchise operation, 2050 John Harden Drive, Jacksonville. Apparently that one has also closed. The phone number, (501) 241-0800, returns a "disconnected" notice.
Skye's Little Bistro, within Stratton's Market, 405 E. Third St., Little Rock, and next-door to Dugan's Pub, is no more. A handwritten butcher-paper sign stretched across the front display case proclaims, "Bistro closed. Big news coming soon." The market remains open. Pub and market owner Don Dugan says he's not sure yet what the "big news" will be, but they're "in process of a couple ideas of what we would like to do with the space and are weighing our options for it at the moment."
Smokey Joe's Bar-B-Que is now open in the former Dickey's Barbecue Pit, 13503 Crystal Hill Road, North Little Rock, in a strip center in front of the Walmart. George and Sharon Qandah are back in business almost exactly a year after "retiring" (after 36 years in business) and closing their restaurant on Military Road in Benton, which actually originated on Chicot Road in Little Rock. Their new operation will be open 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 803-9445.
The venerable U.S. Pizza outlet at 8403 Arkansas 107, Sherwood, is about to undergo a major upgrade, says the chain's chief operating officer, Drew Weber. They're applying the same floor plan for their recently opened Maumelle restaurant, expanding it by 1,000 square feet and building it around the existing, tiny wooden shack where the pizzeria currently operates -- and will continue to operate during construction, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. "We build them ourselves," Weber explains, so they're looking at a 16-18 month timeline for the build-out. The phone number will remain (501) 992-1512.
Little Rock Regional Chamber's 14th annual Taste of the Rock, 5:30-7:30 p.m. today at the River Market Pavilions, 400 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock, will feature food and drink from more than two dozen member restaurants, caterers and distributors, competing for "Best Taste" and "Best Booth" awards. Presenters are McLarty Automotive Group, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Choctaw Casino Hotel -- Pocola and the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the gate. You must be 21 (and have ID to prove it) to attend. The chamber will donate leftover food to Women & Children First. Call (501) 374-2001 or visit littlerockchamber.com/events.
Approaching food-connected events and benefits:
• There's an early-bird ticket, $50 through May 27 (rising to $65 starting May 28, and again to $75 June 11) for Wildwood Park for the Arts' 20th annual Wine & Food FEASTival, 6:30-9 p.m. June 15 in the park's Cabe Festival Theatre complex, 20919 Denny Road, Little Rock. The event brings together a couple of hundred wines, beers and spirits for tasting, and food items from local restaurants and caterers, plus entertainment, a cork pull and a silent auction to benefit the park's educational outreach. Visit web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10231928; call (501) 821-7275.
• Tickets -- $20 in advance (plus service charges) -- go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday for the second annual Wingstock Wing and Beer Festival, noon-3 p.m. Aug. 18 at North Little Rock's Verizon Arena, at which more than 30 area restaurants and vendors will offer up their best chicken-wing preparations, competing for people's choice and Golden Wing awards. Patrons can also indulge in domestic, import and local craft beers, music, play games "and more." Day-of tickets will be $25. Call (800) 745-3000 or visit ticketmaster.com.
• The Green Groceries Program, a ministry of Little Rock's Christ Episcopal Church, will hold its "Farm to Church" fundraiser, 5-7 p.m. June 21 in the Christ Church Gallery, 509 Scott St., Little Rock. It'll feature heavy hors d'oeuvres from local chefs and restaurants, music by Big Silver and a gift shop of items made by Green Groceries clients and local artisans. Tickets are $60, $100 per couple, $150 for families. The nonprofit's twofold mission: to provide fresh food (vegetables, fruit, meat and eggs) for families in need and to support local farmers. Call (501) 375-2342, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit tinyurl.com/farmtochurch.
• Chef Matt Bell of Little Rock's South on Main will be among the 40-plus guest chefs from around the country for Le Bon Appetit, 6 p.m. June 9 at Crosstown Concourse, 1350 Concourse Ave., Memphis. It's a fundraiser for Le Bonheur Children's Hospital's founding organization, Le Bonheur Club, which is hosting the event along with Kelly English, chef/owner of Restaurant Iris, Second Line, Iris, Etc., and Magnolia House. Tickets are $250, $500 for VIP ducats. Call (901) 287-6308 or visit lebonappetit.org or facebook.com/lebonappetitmemphis.
El Dorado's Murphy Arts District has opened its new Farmers Market at MAD, 8 a.m.-noon Wednesday and Saturday through October in the north pavilion in the Murphy Amphitheater, 105 E. Locust St., El Dorado. Vendors will sell produce, meat, herbs, bedding plants, baked goods, jams and jellies, canned products, homemade items and local honey -- and only goods grown, raised or made by participating vendors. Call (870) 315-0380, email email@example.com or visit eldoMAD.com.
Cotija's Mexican Grill, 406 Louisiana St., Little Rock, now has a food truck, we're told, that you are likely to spot at forthcoming festivals. Claudia Alvarez -- the Alvarez family is also connected to the La Hacienda mini-chain -- is the registered owner; the truck is registered at 418 E. Center St., Jacksonville; and the listed phone number is (501) 416-6216.
Womply, a software company that provides services to small businesses, has released its first-ever "State of Local Restaurants" report covering the 2017 calendar year, analyzing transaction data -- including average transaction volume, ticket size and daily revenue -- for nearly 26,000 restaurants in all 50 states. A look at the Arkansas results (womply.com/state-of-local-restaurants/arkansas) shows that "restaurants in Arkansas are among the most affordable in the country in terms of average ticket size. ... Restaurants in Arkansas rank 41st for the average number of transactions each day (35), 49th for average ticket size ($25) and 48th for average daily revenues ($894). All told, this makes The Natural State the 50th overall for restaurant revenue and one of the most affordable states to #eatlocal."
And we get a lot of comments about, and have from time to time written about, the noise and sound level in restaurants. A lot of chain places are designed to be noisy because it increases the speed that tables turn over, which increases profits. In bigger cities, restaurant writers publish the decibel level along with details about the filet mignon. Now there's an app for that: SoundPrint, through which users can sort and find restaurants by decibel ratings, and use their own phone's microphone to submit measurements. The app shows more than 25,000 noise-level submissions, mostly in major cities such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco; there are a couple of dozen spots on the map of Little Rock and North Little Rock, almost all in downtowns and extending west to Riverdale, but we have been unable to find any of them that have been rated yet. Download the app from your favorite app provider -- it's free -- and it'll walk you through how to take measurements and other operational details. You can be among the first to start rating their existing locales or map new ones.
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:
Photo by Jennifer Christman
The Juicy Seafood opens Monday in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center’s western annex, off Cantrell Road in Little Rock.
Weekend on 05/17/2018