It was just less than a week ago that South on Main owner and chef Matt Bell announced his plans to sell the restaurant and leave for Nashville. Now we know that the south Main Street establishment will be in good hands with industry vets Don Dugan and Tasha Stratton.
The Dugans are long term restaurant industry veterans, currently operating Dugan’s Pub, Dizzy’s Bistro, and Stratton’s Market. They are also no stranger to taking over established locations, just last year they purchased Dizzy’s Bistro from long term owner Darla Huie and have done a good job transitioning the 20-year-old restaurant while staying true to the legacy of the place.
“We are very excited to continue the legacy of South on Main. Chef Matt Bell contacted us, and after meeting with him and Amy we both felt like this was the right direction,” Dugan says. “For us it is an opportunity to continue and build on the legacy of the incredible food, service, and live music that Chef Bell has built, and we wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.”
Chef Bell announced last week he was leaving South on Main, which he opened in 2013, to pursue a new executive chef position at 21c Nashville’s Gray & Dudley restaurant.
“After meeting with the Dugans we knew immediately that they would take great care of our staff and continue the legacy our team built,” said Matthew Bell. “While this move is bittersweet, we feel heartened in knowing South on Main, as a business and a family, will be in good hands.”
With any ownership transition, there are always changes, however Dugan said after meeting with members of the existing staff he plans to keep the existing team in place following the transition.
Chef Matt Verch will be promoted to executive chef and head of their culinary team. Verch, a Little Rock native, joined South on Main last year after spending the past five years in New York working under a number of Michelin Star chefs. We have walked away impressed with chef Verch’s talent since joining South on Main, and can’t wait to see the directions he takes the menu.
Chloe Wilmoth, a long term hostess, will take over the front of house management as the guest operations manager. Courtney Stowers has done an incredible job leading one of the best bar programs in Little Rock will serve as general manager.
The Dugans also will keep with the decades-long tradition of live music in this location. They will continue the agreement with Oxford American which runs a great concert series throughout the year and continue with South on Main’s own independent concert programming.
The full transfer of ownership will happen after Chef Bell’s last service in mid-February and will continue uninterrupted.