Razorback Pizza & Sportsbar

Established, local pizzeria opens franchise location with expanded menu...

Posted: March 30, 2014 at 6 a.m.

The Razorback Pizza & Sportsbar brings a new look and new menu items to Jim’s Razorback traditional offerings.

More than 30 years ago, Jim's Razorback Pizza was a small business operation on the west side of Fayetteville. With 14 locations in Northwest Arkansas and four additional locations across the state, the locally-grown business has turned into a household name across the region.

New menu items include a hand-patted double cheeseburger with homecut fries ($7.49), fried dill pickles ($3.99), onion strings ($3.99), and hand-dippe...

The most recent expansion is at 4093 W. Sunset Avenue in Springdale, in the same plaza as Lowe's and Planet Fitness. Owned and operated by Diane Douglas and her husband, Dale, the restaurant embraces the traditional recipes but also adds a modern edge to the ambiance and offerings.

The Razorback Pizza & Sportsbar offers the familiar pizza, pasta and hot sandwiches served at all of the other locations, but the sports bar has more appetizers and a menu that includes burger, wings and chicken strips.

A patio that will be built next month along the side of the building will add additional novelty to the Razorback Sportsbar.

The same quality and care taken with the Italian-style fare is taken with the new menu items.

The chicken strips are white breast meat hand-battered in house-made coating and fried to order. The burgers are hand-patted with fresh-ground chuck. Idaho russet potatoes are used for the home-cut French fries.

"One thing is that everyone had already heard of Jim's Razorback Pizza, so it's not like starting a new store with a new name -- they are already familiar with the pizza. We are just expanding on the concept," Diane Douglas said.

A salad bar in the center of the room provides all-you-can-eat pizza buffet during lunch and several other times during the week.

The signature dishes that established Jim's Razorback Pizza are used at the sports bar location, down to the house-made ranch dressing.

"The [pizza] sauces are specially-made and blended just for us, and we have a company that blends our cheese for us using pure Wisconsin cheese," she said.

The menu describes the cheese as being made with 100 percent whole milk and a blend of smoked provolone, Romano and Parmesan.

The pizza dough is made in-house several times a day, and there is a thin crust, pan pizza and a new hand-tossed recipe with a garlic butter crust.

There is also a 10-inch gluten-free pizza crust available.

The original location at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is still owned and operated by founder Jim Reaves, as well as the locations in Prairie Grove and Farmington.

About 17 years ago, Reaves partnered with Jim Waselues and they began opening more locations. About five years ago, Diane Douglas moved to the area and became office manager for Jim's Razorback Pizza corporate stores.

Company stores include locations in Pea Ridge, Bentonville, Centerton, Siloam Springs, Rogers, Lowell, Springdale and Fayetteville. There are also franchise locations in Fort Smith, Little Rock, Maumelle and Hot Springs.

The sports bar restaurant has a full bar, 11 60-inch televisions and a private room for 35-50 people.

The franchised Razorback Sportsbar location run by the Douglases brings a new look to the restaurant, with a modern design and array of Razorback decor.

"We just had to have something new. It was time for a change," Diane Douglas said.

"I just thought this would be a perfect place for everyone to hang out and watch Razorback games -- at Razorback Pizza."

The high-ceiling restaurant has a large, custom-made metal Razorback hog sign hanging from the ceiling. The walls display a collection of Arkansas Razorbacks memorabilia, including a jersey of Diane's son-in-law, who was a punter for the Razorbacks.

There is a full bar, a room that can be divided to host private parties and 11 60-inch televisions throughout the space. The private rooms have already been useful for hosting various events, including sports teams, awards banquets, senior citizen groups, company meetings, wedding showers and a rehearsal dinner.

The building, previously occupied by Thai Secret, was thoroughly remodeled.

"My husband did 99 percent of the work in here," Douglas said. "He can do just about anything. He built walls. He built the bar. He built the extended salad bar, because we needed something bigger."

The salad bar runs along the center of the restaurant and offers an all-you-can-eat salad, soup and pizza bar several times a week.

The all-you-can-eat pizza buffet is offered for $6.99 11 a.m.-1 p.m. weekdays, as well as Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6-8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The offering includes cheese sticks, cinnamon sticks, a variety of thin crust and hand-tossed pizza, the salad bar and a choice from two daily soups.

Other daily specials include a cheeseburger with fries and a soft drink for $6.99 from 6-8 p.m. Monday nights; and a pasta dinner with salad bar and a soft drink is offered at $7.99 from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday nights.

The salad bar is also offered as a one-trip serving for $3 or all-you-can-eat for $6.

The salad bar is so popular that a second section had to be built so the restaurant could keep it filled and fresh. Fresh deliveries from a local vendor are dropped off daily. The vegetables, including the salad mix, are sliced and prepped in house.

The chicken tenders are made with all-white breast meat then hand-battered, fried-to-order and served with homecut French fries.

Just about everything is freshly prepared in the restaurant.

"Well, I don't grow the peaches and am not making my own cottage cheese... yet," Douglas joked.

An in-house chef, who previously owned his own pizza place in Alaska, works throughout the day and prepares housemade items, including the soup.

The soups are made-from-scratch and varieties include chicken noodle; chili; split pea; sausage and black bean; chicken and rice; and baked potato with broccoli and cheese.

There is a high emphasis on quality food, cleanliness throughout the restaurant and exceptional customer service offered to everyone that walks through the door, Douglas said.

"We have made so many regular customers already. It has been so great since we opened up, but there are still people that come in each day and say 'I didn't know you were here,' " she said.

The spacious setting of the restaurant encourages groups and families, but the lure of the sports bar encourages sports fans to come out, grab a bite, order a drink and watch all the games at once.

There is a party room that can accommodate 35-50 people, and barn-style doors slide shut to create a private setting. There is also an area of the restaurant that is semi-private and seats 12-15 guests.

With the previous success of Jim's Razorback Pizza combined with the entrepreneurial experience of the Douglases, this could be a new trend for the old-fashioned eatery.

"We have a couple of places in the process that we are looking to open additional Razorback Pizza Sportsbars," Diane Douglas said.

The Razorback Pizza Sportsbar is open at 11 a.m. daily, and until 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and midnight on Friday and Saturday. The menu and more information about all locations is available online at razorbackpizza.com. More information about the sports bar is available online at facebook.com/RazorbackPizzaSportsBar or by calling (479) 419-9440.

NAN Dining Guide Cover on 03/30/2014

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