“We’d like to thank you for your support and loyalty over the years,” reads the post. “This was not an easy decision to make, but the time has come to give up the fight. We know that we’ve made decisions many did not agree with, but we want you to know that above all we tried to deliver the best entertainment and best food we could. This has been a labor of love from the music we booked to the relationships we established with so many special customers, employees, and vendors.”
Juanita’s was founded in 1986 by two eventual titans of Little Rock’s food scene. Mark Abernathy (Red Door, Loca Luna) and Frank McGehee (father of Yellow Rocket Concepts chef Scott McGehee) opened the restaurant on South Main Street and quickly became one of the most important venues for food and music in the city. Hundreds of bands, both local and national, played at Juanita’s, and it’s not too hard to find people living here who still have fond memories of the place, as evidenced by the hundreds of comments on Juanita’s Facebook page.
The restaurant switched owners several times and, in 2011, moved to President Clinton Ave. While the performance side of the business stayed strong, the restaurant undeniably suffered. A change in ownership earlier this year was the final effort to keep Juanita’s going, but it came up short.
As a tribute to its history, Juanita’s will serve up its original 1986 recipes beginning Tuesday until it Saturday, Dec. 19. All shows scheduled to play at Juanita’s in 2016 will be relocated to The Metroplex on Colonel Glenn Rd. All tickets purchased in advance will be honored at the new location.