News and happenings in Northwest Arkansas

Posted: March 18, 2014 at 7 a.m.

Event pairs local breweries and restaurants to benefit local ALS chapter

Ales & Tails is a festival celebrating local and regional craft breweries and a Southern delicacy — crawfish. Coordinated by the owners of local restaurants Jammin Java and Cafe Rue Orleans, the event will be 5-9 p.m. March 29 at the Fayetteville Town Center.

The event was inspired as a benefit for a longtime friend and customer of the restaurants that passed away from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. A portion of the proceeds from Ales & Tails will be contributed to the local ALS Association Chapter.

“This event is the first of its kind in Northwest Arkansas, and we look forward to making it an annual event. We are excited to create a festival that features local beers, outstanding crawfish dishes, music, games and drawings,” as stated on the website.

Fresh Louisiana crawfish will be served along with sample brews from local and regional breweries. The “Mud Bug Garden” will be located on the Town Center terrace and patio. Ticket holders will receive a wristband to claim a pound of boiled crawfish and a souvenir five-ounce mug for sampling beers. The boiled crawfish will be prepared by one of the leading sponsors of the event, Cafe Rue Orleans.

Additional crawfish may be purchased for $10 per pound.

V.I.P. tickets are also available and allows access to the main hall of the town center. In the V.I.P. area, numerous crawfish dishes will be prepared by local sponsors, including Cafe Rue Orleans, Jammin Java, Hammontrees, Tyler’s House Catering, Early Bird Catering, Apple Blossom, Meiji and Z’s Brick Oven Pizza. The V.I.P. tickets also receive access to the “Mud Bug Garden,” as well as a pound of crawfish boil and a souvenir five-ounce mug.

A limited number of tickets are available. “Mud Bug Garden” tickets are $25 each and V.I.P. tickets are $45. Tickets are available online at

Local restaurant franchise and general manager win national awards

Roshelle White, General Manager of Village Inn Restaurant in Fort Smith, was recently awarded Franchise General Manager of the Year at the American Blue Ribbon Holdings Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla. American Blue Ribbon Holdings is the parent company for Village Inn Restaurants and four other restaurant chains nationwide.

White, a Fort Smith native, has been employed by Village Inn since 2008, when she was hired as Night Manager, and was promoted to General Manager in 2009.

White attributes her success to her team of hard working employees possessing a passion to serve and loyal customers that make her job look so much easier.

“We really care about our customers. They are our number one priority. We pride ourselves in providing them with the highest quality of service, and in return they keep coming back to us — breakfast, lunch or dinner. We have really become an extended family.”

Village Inn was founded in 1958 and operates approximately 200 restaurants throughout the country, three of which are located in Arkansas, and owned by Hospitality Specialists and local managing owner, George Babb. Babb opened his first Village Inn restaurant in Fayetteville in 1994.

Babb was also recognized as Franchisee of the Year, winning the honor for the 2nd time, the first coming in 1999. Winners of these awards are chosen based on sales increases, guest surveys, mystery shopper reviews as well as corporate reviews that show “continual support of the visions, values and culture” of the Village Inn brand. Winners will also demonstrate a “passion to serve, willingness to embrace change and relentless improvement.” Fort Smith was the fastest growing of George Babb’s three stores in Arkansas and fourth in Quincy, Il.

Burger Shack on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard closed permanently

After being open for about a year and having received many praises for serving a tasty burger, Burger Shack at 1163 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Fayetteville has permanently closed.

The original location in Branson, Mo. is operated by Jon Rasmussen, who expanded into Northwest Arkansas with his father Paul and a third partner. Jon returned to focus on the Branson location several months after launching the Fayetteville restaurant. Disagreements between Paul Rasmussen and the third partner led to the eventual close of the second Burger Shack.