After years of sitting empty, the historic Packet House looks to be getting a new owner. State Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R – Benton) is leading a development team that plans to transform the former restaurant into the 1836 Club. The proposed club goes before the Little Rock Planning Commission tonight for approval before heading to the Little Rock Board of Directors for the final vote. The proposed club is named after the year Arkansas formally became a state.
“It’s going to embrace the history of Arkansas and the history of that building,” says Hutchinson. “We’re going to spend a good chunk of change on renovating it, it was renovated in 2012, but we’re going to make it look more like a club or lounge. Darker lights, hardwood floors, leather furniture and the like. We’ll also have a portrait of Sen. [Alexander] McDonald who was the first Republican elected in Arkansas and built the house in 1869. And we’ll have both pictures of the house back in the 1800s that we found and are going to get framed.”
Part of the planned renovations going into 1836 Club include a new deck that will overlook the Arkansas River. That deck has already been approved by the city. The plans also call for the first floor to serve as a restaurant, while the second floor will become a private lounge, with a ventilated cigar area and full bar.
1836 Club will be a private club limited to 300 members. Membership fees will run $250 per month. However, that cost will be offset by savings from the club’s planned “virtual locker”
“Each member will have a virtual locker that will be an app on your phone where you can stock your locker with your favorite spirits and cigars,” says Hutchinson. “You go on your app and order it, and we’ll have that for you when you arrive. So when you drink, you’ll be drinking out of your own stash. Because of that, prices will be very cheap for the pour.”
If the city issues final approval, 1836 Club will be open for members Monday through Friday, with the lounge staying open on the weekends. Prospective members will fill out an online application and must be nominated by at least two current members. Members will be allowed to invite guests, though Hutchinson did not have full details on how that would work.
This is all subject to approval from the city. We’ll keep you posted right here on that matter.