We’ve known for months now that Ciceley McDowell was bringing her excellent Ceci’s Chicken and Waffles back to Little Rock from Conway. Now, we have all the details about the move. McDowell is opening Ceci’s in the former Shark’s Fish and Chicken at 6606 Colonel Glenn Road near Kroger, and she’s targeting June 11 for the opening day. McDowell has the key to the building and has started the renovation process to install new flooring and paint the inside and outside. For McDowell, the move represents a true homecoming.
“I’m from here, my family is here, and this is what I originally wanted it to be: a family restaurant for me and my family,” said McDowell. “I chose to put my business back into my community, where I’m from. We’re just excited about it.
Ceci’s first opened in North Little Rock in 2015 and quickly gained a following for its stellar take on the eponymous chicken and waffles. McDowell expanded Ceci’s menu to include soul food and some other Southern classics, and largely succeeded with everything she tried. However, the building’s deteriorated state eventually forced her out, and McDowell relocated the restaurant to Conway in 2017. And while Conway diners liked what they tasted, McDowell found that people weren’t visiting regularly enough to keep things going.
“Conway was good, but the reason I left is because Conway is not a night town,” said McDowell. “That was a problem for me. I was basically only open for four hours a day, and that’s been the biggest struggle in carrying this restaurant. We only really did good business on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”
Ceci’s Chicken and Waffles is now closed in Conway. When it opens in Little Rock, the restaurant will feature a drive-thru window. The new location only seats 40 people (as opposed to the 95 that could sit down in Conway), meaning McDowell has to change up her strategy. The new Ceci’s will place an emphasis on to-go food. Many of the same items will still be on the menu, but McDowell will now be working to make some of her fan favorites easier to take home.
“We are excited about the drive-thru,” said McDowell. “I do wish we had more seats here, but the drive-thru is going to make up the difference in volume. In Conway, we were doing 200 waffles in four hours, so we learned how to make them quickly and get them out. This area we’re in, it’s a more “to-go area” than we’ve been in, so we have to do it.”
The return of Ceci’s is a wonderful moment for Little Rock’s food scene, one that will certainly have many fans eager to get a plate as soon as the doors open. We will keep an eye on McDowell’s progress and let you know when opening day is officially set.