Posted: August 28, 2014 at 1:53 a.m.

The Heritage Grille Steak and Fin, the new restaurant in the Marriott Hotel, West Markham and Louisiana streets, Little Rock (formerly Pancetta Regional Kitchen & Wine Bar) is now open, says James Schelnick, the hotel's director of special events. The dinner menu, still going through some tweaking after an extended soft opening, focuses (as you might suspect from the name) on steak and fresh seafood, the latter depending heavily on what's available at any given moment (Schelnick noted the "nonfin" fresh oysters, lobster and crab). Restaurant hours are 6-11 a.m. for breakfast, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. lunch and 5-10 p.m. for dinner daily; the bar, which used to be in the lobby but is now inside the restaurant, stays open until 1 a.m. weeknights, 2 a.m. weekends. The phone number is (501) 658-6700; the website, Use the hotel Facebook page,, while the restaurant page is under construction. The restaurant reconfiguration and renaming are part of an almost $17 million renovation the hotel has been undergoing for the last several months.

Kemuri, Jerry Barakat's new Japanese-American restaurant in the Ice House Center space, 2601 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, opened on schedule Aug. 21. It's the third current restaurant for Barakat, who owns and operates Arthur's Prime Steakhouse and Ocean's at Arthur's on Rahling Road in west Little Rock, and whose history as a Little Rock restaurateur goes back to the 1981 opening of The Terrace (now The Terrace on the Green, where Rodney Parham Road meets Hinson Road). Decorwise, he has turned the bar, which Rocket 21 owner Frank Fletcher had expanded and to which he had added under-bar lighting, into a dozen-seat sushi bar. He has kept, pretty much unchanged, Fletcher's huge aquarium and the glass wine-rack wall that together divide the bar area from the dining room, and he has also kept a lot of the plates and sickle-handled silverware that go all the way back to Ferneau, Rocket 21's predecessor in the Ice House Center. A new wooden scaffolding screens off the previously partially open kitchen. The menu features sushi (made by guys who have trained under popular Oceans sushi chef Alex Guzman, formerly of Sushi Cafe), hot and cold Asian-fusion dishes and robata, small, simple dishes grilled over a charcoal flame. The restaurant is currently open just for dinner, 5-10 p.m. daily, but will also open soon for lunch, 11-2 p.m., and Sunday brunch. The phone number: (501) 660-4100.

Meanwhile, Little Rock's other new Asian-fusion restaurant, Oishi Hibachi & Thai Cuisine, 5501 Kavanaugh Blvd., has also opened its doors and has been going through an extended soft opening. Owner/manager Robert Tju is doing a slow menu rollout, right now serving a limited number of Thai and hibachi dishes, bar tapas and small sushi plates, with a complete menu due by Sept. 10. Hours, at least for the time being, are 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. daily. The phone number is (501) 603-0080.

We can now reveal who and what is going into the former Quiznos space at Fourth and Spring streets in downtown Little Rock: Chef Jason Knapp's Green Leaf Grill, in the Blue Cross-Blue Shield building at 601 S. Gaines St., Little Rock, is taking it over. After extensive renovations, Green Leaf Grill Express will open sometime in the first quarter of 2015. It'll offer a smaller version of the current menu, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays. No phone number yet, but you can reach the "main office" at (501) 378-2521.

The target is now mid-September for the opening of the first Arkansas outlet of Chicago-based Potbelly Sandwich Shop in the Park Avenue development, 314 S. University Ave., Little Rock. And we now have a listed phone number, (501) 660-4441, although we have not yet been able to get anybody to answer it. The website,, still only promises that the restaurant is "coming soon."


This paper, a couple of weeks ago, released online the top 10 Little Rock restaurants based on sales figures from the first six months of the year, and -- no surprise -- all 10 were either parts of national chains or franchises of national chains.

A few days later, the paper released the list of what the highest-selling restaurants for the same period if large national chains were excluded from the mix, in reverse order:

• No. 10: Arthur's Prime Steakhouse, 27 Rahling Circle, $998,649 in sales

• No. 9: Whole Hog Cafe, 2516 Cantrell Road, $1,043,757

• No. 8: Franke's, 11121 N. Rodney Parham Road, $1,045,418

• No. 7: ZaZa Fine Salad & Pizza Co., 5600 Kavanaugh Blvd., $1,070,623.82

• No. 6: Cajun's Wharf, 2400 Cantrell Road, $1,077,665

• No. 5: Big Orange, 17809 Chenal Parkway, $1,088,047.12

• No. 4: Local Lime, 17815 Chenal Parkway, $1,127,130.16

• No. 3: Corky's Ribs & BBQ, 12005 Westhaven Drive, $1,186,241

• No. 2: Big Orange Midtown, 207 N. University Ave., $1,455,030.48

• No. 1: Flying Fish, 511 President Clinton Ave., $1,692,775


Potluck, Arkansas' first and only food rescue organization, will hold a fundraiser called "Buffet on Broadway," 6-8:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at Potluck's headquarters, 621 W. Broadway, North Little Rock. The buffet-style dinner will feature "signature sliders" created by Chef Brian Deloney of Maddies' Place, Brandon Brown of Hillcrest Artisan Meats and Chef Brian Kearns of Arthur's, plus sides from Ciao Baci; distributor Ben E. Keith is donating the raw materials and Glazer's of Arkansas is providing wine and beer. The Joe Vick Quartet will perform. Tickets are $50; proceeds will benefit Potluck's food rescue, distribution and programs. Call (501) 371-0303, email or visit

The World Cheese Dip Championship, which took a year off in 2013, returns for its fourth year, this time 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Bernice Gardens, 1400 block of Main St., Little Rock. The event benefits the Harmony Health Clinic, which provides free medical and dental services for the underserved in Pulaski County. Tickets are $8 in advance, or $10 at the gate, free for kids 10 and younger. Visit for competition details and registration. The first event, in 2010 at Dickey-Stevens Park, was so successful that many competitors ran out of cheese dip by midafternoon; it moved to War Memorial Stadium in 2011 and the Clinton Presidential Center in 2012.

And as part of its ongoing Fork + Bottle dinner series and honoring National Bourbon Heritage Month, The Hive, the restaurant in the 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville (, 200 N.E. A St., will highlight guest brewers, distillers and winemakers for a special, three-course bourbon dinner, 6:30 p.m. Sept. 24. Cost is $99 per person. Call (479) 286-6582 for reservations.

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:

Weekend on 08/28/2014