Tucked on the hill, just off JFK Boulevard you will find Gadwall’s Grill. If you have been here before you’re used to familiar faces considering, I’m told, some customers eat here five days a week!
The walls are decorated with eclectic objects such as ducks, bucks and various beer signs. There’s a certain sense of comfortability when you walk in, no fuss, no fancy table cloths, just downright home cooking at a family-friendly restaurant. From the cheese dip to the ranch dressing, a must dip for your fresh-cut fries, everything is made in-house. Do not, I repeat, do not forget to ask for a side of ranch for your fries, owner Shea Bryant was telling the truth when she said “people are obsessed with the fries and the ranch.” I’m now obsessed.
It was 30 years ago this Friday, when Bryant’s mother and aunt started Gadwall’s. Neither knew how to run a restaurant, but both threw in the towel while working at Buffalo Grill and ventured out on their own. For the first 10 years, these sisters worked dawn till dusk six days a week. Eventually, when Bryant and her brother, Bart, joined the family business they changed to seven days a week. The aunt was bought out 20 years ago and Bryant’s mother, Karen, retired about five years ago. Karen still hasn’t managed to stay away though; you know what they say about restaurant owners – they never stop working.
About twelve years ago, they moved to the location on North Hills Boulevard after a fire destroyed the original location located right next door. Once a pizza joint, the family moved into its current spot but said goodbye to the pizzas, “We kept pizza for years and years…the consistency on it was not good, so we just had to get rid of it.”
“Consistency”, a word Bryant used to describe why her customers keep coming back. It’s how, she says, she’s stood to the competition that has moved near Gadwall’s over the years, “Everybody always comes back,” she said. “When you eat here, as long as these people have eaten here, it’s like you crave it.”
I’ll have to agree with her, I ate there last week and I too am craving it. The grilled club is unlike any other club sandwich I’ve had. This triple stack, oozing with American and Swiss cheeses, is completely grilled minus the fixings. Layered between three pieces of grilled buttered bread, you’ll bite into turkey, ham, bacon, cheese, fresh-cut lettuce, pickles and tomatoes from a local farmer’s market. It’s warm, gooey and hits the spot.
Watching orders coming out of the kitchen window, it appears a favorite is the burger. Guess I was right; they go through 600 pounds of ground beef a week! “We’re just a normal burger place, no truffle oils.” If you’re looking for a good old-fashioned burger, this is the place.
Bryant is thankful for her longtime customers, “We’ve had a lot of people come and go, customers pass away, it’s hard.” Customers have watched her grow up and she loves them.
To celebrate with its customers, Gadwall’s is running a special this Friday and Saturday for its 30th anniversary; 30 cent fries with entrees and dollar drinks including domestic draft beers.
As if this next milestone wasn’t enough, Bryant recently bought the Town Pump in Little Rock. More on that at a later date.
Check out Gadwall’s Grill at 7311 N. Hills Blvd. in North Little Rock Saturday through Thursday from 11-9pm, Fridays 11-10 pm. Don’t miss their breakfast hours Friday-Sunday.
As an added bonus, they have video games in the back of the restaurant to keep your kids entertained if you’re looking for some peace and quiet while you dine!