Friday is a special day for Little Rock’s food scene, as the much-beloved Star of India turns 25 years old. Owner Sami Lal opened his restaurant on March 2, 1993, serving up Indian classics from his home state of Punjab. The success of Star of India paved the way for a host of ethnic restaurants to succeed in an otherwise chain restaurant-dominated food scene in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Those who know Sami won’t be surprised at all that he doesn’t have any special party planned. That shouldn’t stop you from stopping in for lunch or dinner Friday and congratulating him, though. By the way, the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame accepts nominees that have been open for 25 years, something to remember when the call for nominations rolls back around.
A month ago, Wee Betty’s Café in Jacksonville closed up shop. This week, it is open again … in Scotland. Wee Betty’s is now an export shop based out of Glasgow, Scotland, selling British staples to expats here in the United States. Goods include clotted cream, Cadbury chocolates, specialty biscuits, ginger beer and other grocery items. In addition to the dozens of items available for order, Wee Betty’s will fulfill special requests if homesick Brits are missing a particular item. Here’s the ordering website; Wee Betty’s is currently offering free shipping on all orders, so it’s a good chance to try some products from the United Kingdom you couldn’t ordinarily find.
Tomorrow is the grand opening for the third location of Cantina Cinco de Mayo in downtown Little Rock. Cinco de Mayo is opening its doors for lunch and dinner at 521 Center St., in the location that used to be home to Jerky’s Spicy Chicken and More. Jerky’s was open for less than a year, closing after a series of disputes between ownership and the landlord. Cantina Cinco de Mayo also has locations in West Little Rock at Rahling Circle and on Stagecoach Road in Otter Creek. The downtown location has not yet announced its regular hours, though it will certainly be open for lunch during weekdays.
Congratulations to Arkansas Brews Cruise, which is now ranked #1 for tours and for night life on TripAdvisor. Arkansas Brews Cruise is Central Arkansas’ franchise of a popular beer tour company that operates in cities around the country. Owner Trey Moore takes each tour to three of Little Rock’s breweries, where participants get to learn how beer is made, the history of each brewery, and of course taste samples at each location. If you haven’t taken a tour, message Arkansas Brews Cruise soon to set one up; I’ve been on two and came away impressed with my experiences.
Speaking of breweries, you might want to stop by Flyway Brewing this weekend for a special weekend plate. Flyway has giving its spent grains to Olles Farms out of Bigelow, where it’s fed to the farm’s pigs. Olles Farms has in turn processed some of that meat into bratwursts that it is bringing to Flyway this weekend. It’s a unique little microcosm of how businesses in Little Rock’s food scene support each other and create good food in the process. The Olles Farm brats will be on Flyway’s menu through Sunday.
Next week, Proof Bar + Lounge will be open for business. Check out our First Look of the new Hillcrest bar from the former Pantry bar manager Gene Lee.
It’s been almost four decades since Shorty Smalls opened up in Little Rock. Read our report on how the restaurant was once in decline and what it’s doing to turn things around.