A quick look around the food scene in Little Rock tells you that there are very few older restaurants in town that manage to stay relevant. Few still that have survived 30 years. Even fewer that have maintained at least part of the original ownership. Then there are only a small handful of those who seem to get a little better with every year that passes. Trio’s fits into that elite category.
Thirty years ago Labor day weekend in 1986 they opened as Trio’s Good Food To-Go in the newly opened retail center on Cantrell called Pavilion in the Park. The area would be the flagship retail center for the western edge of Little Rock (at the time) featuring Italian clothing store Benetton, interior design store Lawson Gentry, clothing store Belle Tournure, and Bauman’s clothing store. Today only Trio’s and Bauman’s remain from that early time period.
Over the years the restaurant scene in Little Rock has seen several big growth periods and the food scene has changed a number of times. Part of what makes Trio’s special is their ability to not only keep up with the times, but continuously innovate and create change. It was hard to imagine that a spot with such simple beginnings would be in this position.
Trio’s originated as a gourmet shop with a deli case full of salads, house made desserts, and sandwiches, including one of the only places in town to get a tongue sandwich. Owners Capi Peck and Brent Peterson started the space along with two other partners. Peck and Peterson later took over as sole owners of the space and have slowly evolved through careful guidance into a premier restaurant.
In that time they have developed a loyal following from customers and established themselves as one of the best restaurants to work in Little Rock.
“The best part of the past thirty years has easily been the extended family of staff and customers, many who have been there from the beginning,” owner Capi Peck tells us.
Over the years the coffee bins, retail shelves, and deli cases were traded in for more tables and a bar. The patio became a feature, private dining was added through a big expansion next door. More recently Trio’s underwent a facelift in time for the 29th anniversary.
Trio’s appears have a stronger team than ever. Executive chef Shanna Merriweather has become a wonderful extension of the Trio’s culinary legacy. Manager Stephanie Caruthers has been a part of the Trio’s family since nearly the beginning. The biggest addition might be Merrick Fagan who joined Trio’s last year as bar manager, the move strongly elevated the bar side of the restaurant, giving the area of town a much needed watering hole.
Turning 30 will be business as usual for Trio’s, no major parties or celebrations planned. Instead Peck is taking her knowledged gained during a successful 30 years as a restaurateur and her family’s long history in Little Rock to run for an open city director seat. If she can take Little Rock half as far as she has Trio’s in the past 30 years then the city should be in good shape.
In the meantime be sure to catch several of Trio’s special events coming up, including the second round of their highly popular Tiki night. Stop in for lunch or dinner sometime this week and wish them happy birthday, maybe even grab some of the chicken salad, banana bread, or bing cherry jello that have graced the menu over the past 30 years.