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story.lead_photo.caption Bruno's Little Italy opened its dining room and patio this week after almost eight months of take-out only. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison)

Bruno’s Little Italy, 310 Main St., after firmly sticking to a curbside-to-go-only business model with a delivery service since March, reopened officially on Tuesday for inside and patio dining. Owner Gio Bruno says he’s doing it reluctantly, with an eye on still-high-and-some-days-rising numbers of coronavirus cases, but now that all the other restaurants on the block — most recently Allsopp & Chapple, but also A.W. Lin’s, Brewski’s, Samantha’s and Soul Fish — have reopened, he was seeing his business decline, so he has bowed to pressure from his employees and customers and thrown open his doors — at 2/3 capacity.

Bruno’s actually started serving customers late last week; Bruno describes that as a soft reopening to work out any kinks. This week they’ve installed a new point-of-sale system that includes no-contact credit-card processing. Safety precautions are in place as well. The restaurant has undergone a cleaning and disinfecting and alternating tables are marked off to maintain proper distancing — there will be 17 available tables including the patio; rains will eliminate the five patio tables and reduce the number to 12. Bruno’s has never taken reservations in its current location (its fourth in more than 60 years) and won’t now — first come, first seated. Since there is no waiting area per se, most customers waiting for tables will have to wait outside.

Bruno says he has discontinued delivery but will continue providing curbside to-go service for customers uneasy about entering the dining room, and he’ll keep a couple of parking spaces reserved in front of the restaurant for that purpose.

Hours will return to what they were pre-pandemic: 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, but for awhile he’ll keep taking to-go orders as early at 3:45 — customers will just have to wait until 5 to pick them up. The phone number is (501) 372-7866; the website is brunoslittleitaly.com.

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Owner-operator Devin Marcel says his target date is now Dec. 20 for Central Arkansas’ first outlet of the Atlanta-based Original Hot Dog Factory chain, at 1424 Main St., in downtown Little Rock’s South Main neighborhood. You may recall that Marcel originally was looking at the vacant space at 400 N. Bowman Road, Little Rock (originally the location of the west Little Rock branch of The Faded Rose, and several restaurants since, most recently Chano’s Mexican Grill). His hours, once open, will be 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Check out the menu at theoriginalhotdogfactory.com.

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Grady's Pizza & Subs on North Rodney Parham Road opened its dining room a month ago. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison)

A combination of advancing age (ours) and the pandemic have restricted our ability to get around the way we used to, so we are using that as an excuse for not knowing it has been exactly one month since Grady’s Pizza and Subs’ “west-er” Little Rock location, 10901 N. Rodney Parham Road, opened its dining room. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (501) 904-2822; the website is gradyspizza-subs.com.

Mockingbird Bar & Tacos, 1220 Main St., Little Rock, is adding several sidewalk tables in front of the restaurant, with permits from the city of Little Rock and the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division for alcohol service. Which will help in starting at 4-6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday happy hour, with discounted house margaritas, draft beers and appetizers. The phone number is (501) 414-0423.

This year’s Arkansas State Fair has been canceled because of the coronavirus, but if you just can’t stand the fall without a funnel cake, the State Fair is hosting a Taste of the Fair event, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 23-25 at the State Fairgrounds, 2600 Howard St., Little Rock. Ten food vendors will spread out across what would normally be the food court area, vending corn dogs, funnel cakes, turkey legs, cotton candy, caramel apples, cheeseburgers, pineapple whip, Indian tacos, fry bread, fried lasagna, gyros and Greek salad, pizza, taco salad, nachos supreme, cinnamon-roasted nuts and kettle korn, snow cones, fried mac & cheese, fried pickles and deep-fried Oreos, Twinkies and Snickers. There will be limits on how many people can come in at any one time, there will be a single entrance (at the corner of the Big Show Diner) and a single exit, everyone must wear a mask to enter and while moving around and all food will be packaged in to-go containers. Admission and parking on the midway are free. Call (501) 372-8341.

And Oct. 31 is the deadline to submit nominations for the 2020 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame at tinyurl.com/yy77vj7w. Nominations can be made in five categories: Arkansas Food Hall of Fame, Proprietor of the Year, Food-Themed Event, People’s Choice and Gone But Not Forgotten.

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. Send email to:

[email protected]

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