Longtime bar manager at The Pantry Eugene Lee is leaving that job after purchasing Hillcrest’s Next Bistro and Bar. Lee has spent years making The Pantry and The Pantry Crest into one of the better bar programs in Little Rock. Having spent a few evenings at Next, I have little doubt that Lee will provide an immediate upgrade in the cocktail menu and management of the establishment. In a Facebook post, Next Bistro and Bar announced it will close for the next few weeks while Lee and his team make changes and get the staff trained on the new menu and techniques. We will let you know Next holds its grand reopening.
We’re only a few days into the new year, and already 2018 has claimed its first restaurant victim. Wee Betty’s Café in Jacksonville will close its doors after today. The restaurant and café have already closed; only the market is open now. The owners say they will be selling off the restaurant equipment over the next few weeks and potentially moving back to the United Kingdom. Wee Betty’s was a traditional English restaurant that featured classics like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and scones.
You have one week to get your kBird fix in before the restaurant closes for its traditional winter break. Richard Glasgow will close his Thai spot on Thursday, Jan. 11, and return to reopen it Feb. 12. Every year, Glasgow closes for about a month and heads to Thailand to see friends and learn more about the heritage of Thai food. kBird is open for lunch during the week and for dinner Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Due to the cold weather, La Terraza Rum and Lounge has announced it will only be open weekdays for dinner service until March. The restaurant opted to cancel its weekday lunch service during the colder months; considering how important the Venezuelan spot’s patio is to business, this is a pretty logical move. La Terraza will still be open for lunch on Saturdays and brunch Sundays. The move should also give Armando and Sarah Bolanos more time to update Graffiti’s, which they purchased last fall. The two have promised some changes in 2018 to improve the quality of that restaurant.
Ira’s chef and owner Ira Mittelman tells me his new restaurant on Main Street in downtown Little Rock should be ready to go sometime in February. Mittelman last year closed Ira’s Park Hill Grill to prepare for the move into the Rose Building, an early 1900’s construction that will also be home to A.W. Lin’s second location. Mittelman and his design team are working on a space that will feature modern touches while celebrating the heritage of one of downtown Little Rock’s oldest buildings. Mittelman has been working for more than a year to get the spot open. Most of the delays in construction have been to ensure that all changes maintain the building’s historical significance.
With the new year comes opportunities for new restaurants and veteran owners to make their mark on Little Rock’s food scene. We took a look at what you can expect to change in 2018.