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story.lead_photo.caption Chicken 65 at Banana Leaf downtown: A new location will serve these and a range of South Indian dishes inside Asian Groceries at Rodney Parham and Reservoir Roads.

Indian restaurant Banana Leaf has opened a second outlet, Banana Leaf -- A South Indian Kitchen, inside Asian Groceries, in the Ashley Square Shopping Center, 9112 N. Rodney Parham Road at Reservoir Road, Little Rock. The menu will focus more on South Indian dishes, including vada pan, a deep fried potato patty served on a soft bread roll. You may find more clues in the offerings for Sunday's opening-day brunch, which included iddli, dosas, chutneys, sambar, chicken and goat biryani and Gobi Manchurian. Banana Leaf started out in April 2011 as a popular food truck; it opened a brick-and-mortar location, primarily a grab-and-go operation, inside the Simmons Tower, 425 W. Capitol Ave., Little Rock. It's at least the second try at putting an Indian restaurant in the space: it previously housed Veggi Deli, a small vegetarian cafe that served chaat as a specialty. The grocery store hours are 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, but the restaurant's hours are shaping up as 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. The phone number is (501) 227-0860; visit the Facebook page,

The 1,848-square-foot former Dunkin' Donuts at 10721 Kanis Road, Little Rock, will become another location of Seattle-based Starbucks, set to open later this year, according to Colliers International, which arranged the sale and praised the location in a news release as "a perfect fit for Starbucks. ... It has fantastic visibility from Shackleford [Road] and Kanis and easy access from I-430 and I-630." This Dunkin' Donuts and another on Cantrell Road operated by the same franchisee closed within the last year. A third Little Rock location, operated by a different franchisee, continues to operate at 10121 N. Rodney Parham Road.

Speaking of Starbucks, we don't yet have a target opening date for the new 2,300-square-foot one built from the ground up at 2815 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, the land on which several restaurants (most recently and probably the longest-lived, Shogun Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar, which closed in April and was demolished to make way for this) had stood over at least four decades. There aren't signs yet but the exterior appears to be complete.

Barring any more delays -- and there has been a series of them over the past few weeks -- Jerry Barakat's Oceans at Arthur's is now expected to open sometime this week in the Subaru half of the former Riverside Acura and Subaru dealership, 16100 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock. That the restaurant's normal Sunday brunch this past weekend was served at its neighboring older sibling, Arthur's Prime Steakhouse -- still operating in the Village at Rahling Road, 27 Rahling Circle but slated to move into the former Acura building the next couple of months -- indicates the two-mile move was in progress. Oceans' hours will remain 5-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Sunday; the Oceans/Arthur's phone number will also remain, (501) 821-1838.

Hawgz Blues Cafe, 5524 John F. Kennedy Blvd., North Little Rock, will open a second location, in the rotating restaurant space at 14425 Cantrell Road, also known as Arkansas 10, that most recently and very briefly housed a Whole Hog location. CEO Kristian Nelson says he expects to hold the grand opening Sept. 14. It'll have the same menu as the North Little Rock location, except this one will serve breakfast, 6:30-10 a.m. daily; on Sundays, a "super breakfast buffet" with made-to-order omelets and flapjacks, will precede the Sunday soul food gospel buffet similar to the one he serves on JFK Boulevard. Hours will be 6:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; he'll keep the bar open with a bar menu until 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. They'll also do family karaoke on Friday nights and offer blues bands on Saturdays. The phone number: (501) 673-3940; the website,

Oki Sutanto, who at one time operated a food truck called Two Brothers Hibachi, says he's now expecting to open Aji Ramen Bar, 301 N. Shackleford Road, Little Rock, the second week of September. (Mostly, he explains, he's awaiting an early September delivery date for the furniture.) The menu will focus primarily on the eponymous Japanese noodle-broth dish; he'll also serve up a range of Japanese appetizers. And he has applied for an on-premises beer and wine permit. Hours will be 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. No phone number, website or Facebook page yet.

We've gotten confirmation that a "lifestyle" bar and restaurant called Live Life Chill is going into the former Revolution Restaurant, 300 President Clinton Ave. in Little Rock's River Market District, adjoining the Rev Room music venue. We don't yet have an opening date. The Facebook page describes it thus: "Picture yourself chilling by the river with your favorite handcrafted cocktail in hand, tunes on point and food that makes your mouth water." The one menu item we know about: "Piri Piri chicken on a stick." They'll be looking for "fun, glamorous and knowledgeable staff that will be hired as models and will be expected to maintain our brand image." The sign out front indicates a link to Rock Town Distillery but we couldn't establish by deadline just what that might be.

Jo Jo's Bar-B-Q, 117 Country Club Road, Sherwood, has closed indefinitely after a fire damaged the interior early Aug. 1. In a statement last week, manager Stephen Duch thanked everyone "who has reached out already to offer their help and support. Also, thank you to all of our loyal customers over the years." As of deadline, the phone number, (501) 834-9696, produces a voicemail message that the restaurant has temporarily closed.

Loca Luna, 3519 Old Cantrell Road, introduces a new weekend brunch menu Saturday that includes biscuits and gravy with crumbled sausage, eggs Benedict, huevos rancheros, sirloin steak and eggs, "Serious Chicken and Waffles," grilled salmon and scrambled eggs with pepper-dill sour cream, a "Frickin Chicken biscuit" and lobster-blue crab cakes with spicy chipotle cream sauce. Brunch hours are 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (501) 663-4666.

"2nd Saturday" starts at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Little Rock Farmers Market, in the twin plazas behind the River Market's Ottenheimer Market Hall, 400 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock. Master Gardeners will answer questions about lawns and gardens and will provide select plantings (while supplies last) until 1 p.m. From 9 a.m.-1 p.m., visit the Cockrill's Critters Farm Animal Petting Zoo, including chickens, goats, pigs and a mini cow. Kat Robinson will sign copies of Another Slice of Arkansas Pie, 9-11 a.m. inside the Market Hall. Kids 12 and younger can participate in a variety of activities designed to teach them about food and promote healthy eating habits in the Lil' Farmers kids club, 10-11 a.m. Visit

Cromwell Architects Engineers will host, weather permitting, food trucks on Little Rock's East Sixth Street near their front door (the so-called Paint Factory, 1300 E. Sixth St.), 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Mondays -- as of now, weekly through August, every other week through the end of October. The lineup:

• Aug. 13: Cypress Knee

• Aug. 20: The Clean Eatery

• Aug. 27 and Sept. 24: Native Eats

• Sept. 10, Oct. 8 and 22: Nach'yo Nachos.

Food-truck operators who would like to participate in "Food Truck Mondays in The East Village," email Victoria Gross at Check out the Cromwell and East Village Little Rock Facebook pages.

Central Arkansas' second Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews is set to open Monday in the Shoppes of Benton shopping center, 20220 Interstate 30, Benton. We don't yet have hours or a phone number. Red Robin also has Arkansas locations in Conway, Fayetteville and Rogers; we're still trying to track down a report that a Red Robin is also in the works for the recently closed Applebee's Grill & Bar, 4333 Warden Road, North Little Rock.

Asia Express was set to open Wednesday in Southfork Plaza, at 2790 S. Second St., Cabot. The menu is divided between Chinese and Mediterranean dishes -- the menu posted on the Facebook page ( says the latter items on the latter, including gyros, falafel, upside down carrots, cabbage rolls, grape leaves and Mediterranean pizza, curiously, "[need] to be ordered one day in advance." Hours are 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 286-6135.

Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe, continuing its "Year of Giving," will donate 25 percent of the proceeds from its 5-9 p.m. sales at its Gateway location, 10800 Bass Pro Parkway, Little Rock, on Tuesday to Arkansas Food Bank and on Aug. 21 to Feed AR Kids. The restaurant mini-chain each month is helping nonprofits ensure that underprivileged Arkansans have access to nourishing food options. Visit

Ten chefs and two mixologists will take part in Thea Foundation's Blue Plate Special, 6-9 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Capital Hotel, 111 W. Markham St., Little Rock. The list: Amanda Ivy, Sauce(d) Bar and Oven; Payne Harding, Cache; Gilbert Alaquinez, Forty-Two; Marc Guizol, Capital Bar & Grill; Matcha Norwood, Cinnalightful; Kim Henderson, Heritage Catering; Capi Peck, Trio's; Greg Wallis, Kemuri; Kelli Marks, Cathead's Diner; and a chef, to be announced, from Petit & Keet. The mixologists: Alex Smith of The Fold and Luiggi Uzcategui of Big Orange Midtown.

Helping them out will be artists who represent the six categories in which Thea Foundation awards scholarships each year -- visual art, performing art, film, creative writing, spoken word and fashion design: fashion designers Bryant Phelan and Linda Rowe Thomas; glass artist James Hayes; filmmaker Gerry Bruno; musicians Genine Latrice Perez, Rodney Block and Amy Garland Angel; author and historian Janis Kearney; artists Matt McLeod, Kevin Kresse and Barry Thomas; and poets Stacey and LeRon McAdoo. Dr. Danny Fletcher and Co. will perform.

Presenter is Malvern National Bank. Tickets are $100; proceeds benefit the North Little Rock-based foundation and the Charles A. Frueauff Foundation has offered a $25,000 matching challenge grant. The event started out as the Governor's Culinary Challenge, to elevate the local culinary arts scene while supporting the arts in Arkansas. Call (501) 379-9512 or visit

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 Staton Breidenthal
Gobi Manchurian at Banana Leaf downtown: A new location will serve these and a range of South Indian dishes inside Asian Groceries at Rodney Parham and Reservoir Roads.
Photo by Eric E. Harrison
A brightly colored sign portends the opening of Live Life Chill in the former Revolution Room restaurant, 300 President Clinton Ave. in Little Rock’s River Market.
Photo by Eric E. Harrison
There aren’t any signs yet but the exterior of the pending Starbucks at 2815 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, appears to be complete.

Weekend on 08/09/2018

Print Headline: Restaurant transitions: Banana Leaf adds branch inside grocer

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