HogWild21

Restaurant Development in Little Rock Metro area

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20 minutes ago, SangreRaVen said:

I think it is going through a shift, some could be due to changes in likes and dislikes of the ppl here. The more restaurants we get, especially those of similar styling the more competition and some naturally some places will not survive. Add in that some of the actual larger brands / franchises have closed due to issue with the company itself downsizing or just closing under performing locations and I kind of feel like its more a matter of it righting itself as of this moment. More stuff is coming, more stuff will be built, the big question of course will be is any of it worth anything really. 

 

-R

Competition is always good because it encourages existing restaurant to step up their game in providing excellent food and serve along with value prices. Cajun Wharf, who has been in LR for more than 30 years, has been doing great despite new restaurants opening around the city.

With that being said, there’s still plenty of good restaurant brands (not including Cheesecake Factory) that is worth coming to LR. The real question is where should they open in the city and will people continue to dine at their restaurants after a couple of months. I have spoken to numerous companies about the possibility of opening a LR area location and they all said they have issues with finding the right property for their establishment.

Edited by ecity3138

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Well with more developments being built that could help a little but I think some key things are going to be what brand it is, who their target market is food wise and cost wise and those will play on where in the city they should build. Like out in Chenal Valley around the Promenade only certain stuff can survive (case in point, Del Frisco's and Pei Wei both closing). I think the new development next to Kroger could draw some stuff in but I personally feel the main hot spots in the city will be Gateway Town Center (which is obvious) and then downtown LR / Rivermarket area LR (but only certain stuff works there to). Its a pity Shackledford Cross has been such a failure as it has a pretty good location but lacks heavily in retail structure (all the empty store fronts is not helping at all). 

 

-R

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20 minutes ago, SangreRaVen said:

Well with more developments being built that could help a little but I think some key things are going to be what brand it is, who their target market is food wise and cost wise and those will play on where in the city they should build. Like out in Chenal Valley around the Promenade only certain stuff can survive (case in point, Del Frisco's and Pei Wei both closing). I think the new development next to Kroger could draw some stuff in but I personally feel the main hot spots in the city will be Gateway Town Center (which is obvious) and then downtown LR / Rivermarket area LR (but only certain stuff works there to). Its a pity Shackledford Cross has been such a failure as it has a pretty good location but lacks heavily in retail structure (all the empty store fronts is not helping at all). 

 

-R

The Shackleford Crossing shopping center was marketed and design poorly. The middle part of the shopping has been vacant for years and the space where Gordman’s and Babies r us once occupied  (though both companies filed for bankruptcy which led to store closures) has yet been filled. Where Walmart now sits was originally supposed to be Belk department store but those plans fell through when Pleasant  Ridge Shopping center open around the same time Shackleford Crossing opens and Belk move in to what used to be Parisian department store. 

I think the current developers of Shackleford Crossing needs to redevelop the middle section of the property into mixed used space similar to Park Avenue. I also wish the city would allow Simon to build the failed Summit Mall plan on the site where we could have seen stores and restaurants on our wishlist. I remember that even Neiman Marcus was considering open a store there at one point. 

 

Edited by ecity3138

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Oh yeah, I remember hearing about that mall when I worked at Best Buy back in 2000 / 2001. There was talk of Best Buy moving over there if the mall got built because it was supposed to have been so big. I agree if they redid Shackleford Cross as mixed use it might do better, maybe demolish the empty big box stores on the backside facing the interstate and build some Condo's or high level apts. 

 

-R

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The market for restaurants in Little Rock has become saturated.  The restaurant column in the AR Dem Gaz has multiple closures every week.  Many of us that live in Little Rock support local independent restaurant operators much more than we support the national chains.  There's not as much competition in smaller towns like Benton or Bryant.  Often times we will see certain brands come into Little Rock last.  It's a combination of a couple of things - Lack of good sites and lack of enough population that will support so many restaurants.  Many restauranteurs are experiencing a shift in the market.  We're seeing alot of restaurant brands go smaller (like the Chili's on Markham across from la Madeleine).  Younger diners are using online apps more to order and buy.  Home delivery increases double digits every year.  Foot traffic into restaurants are generally less and has declined quarter after quarter.  This is a nationwide trend as well.   Just my two cents and what some observations have been in the market. 

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17 minutes ago, LRretail said:

The market for restaurants in Little Rock has become saturated.  The restaurant column in the AR Dem Gaz has multiple closures every week.  Many of us that live in Little Rock support local independent restaurant operators much more than we support the national chains.  There's not as much competition in smaller towns like Benton or Bryant.  Often times we will see certain brands come into Little Rock last.  It's a combination of a couple of things - Lack of good sites and lack of enough population that will support so many restaurants.  Many restauranteurs are experiencing a shift in the market.  We're seeing alot of restaurant brands go smaller (like the Chili's on Markham across from la Madeleine).  Younger diners are using online apps more to order and buy.  Home delivery increases double digits every year.  Foot traffic into restaurants are generally less and has declined quarter after quarter.  This is a nationwide trend as well.   Just my two cents and what some observations have been in the market. 

...that being said, I just read an article a few weeks ago (WSJ?) about the massive INCREASE in consumer spending at restaurants across the country.  It is up TWENTY FIVE PERCENT this year.  Gotta factor that in, somehow....

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3 minutes ago, Architect said:

...that being said, I just read an article a few weeks ago (WSJ?) about the massive INCREASE in consumer spending at restaurants across the country.  It is up TWENTY FIVE PERCENT this year.  Gotta factor that in, somehow....

I haven't seen that article and have no doubt that may be the case.  But I'm not sure that many restaurants in Central Arkansas are seeing that type of increase...  I wish we were able to get more statistics from A&P to study that.  But a law passed a couple of years ago stopped that.  In past years, development teams from a number of national brands have expressed concern that the market isn't strong enough in Little Rock (due to level of competition, population numbers, check averages, work force pool) to make a major investment.  The Red Robin in Benton is purely a play in connection with GBT Realty which is a national landlord that operates all across the country and has a close relationship with Red Robin.  But they wouldn't make the same play in Little Rock.  I'm not trying to say anything negative but there ARE reasons why we don't get many of the same brands in Little Rock and Central Arkansas as a hole in comparison to Northwest Arkansas perhaps.  I don't see a Top Golf coming here any time soon much less a Pappadeaux.

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I haven't seen that article and have no doubt that may be the case.  But I'm not sure that many restaurants in Central Arkansas are seeing that type of increase...  I wish we were able to get more statistics from A&P to study that.  But a law passed a couple of years ago stopped that.  In past years, development teams from a number of national brands have expressed concern that the market isn't strong enough in Little Rock (due to level of competition, population numbers, check averages, work force pool) to make a major investment.  The Red Robin in Benton is purely a play in connection with GBT Realty which is a national landlord that operates all across the country and has a close relationship with Red Robin.  But they wouldn't make the same play in Little Rock.  I'm not trying to say anything negative but there ARE reasons why we don't get many of the same brands in Little Rock and Central Arkansas as a hole in comparison to Northwest Arkansas perhaps.  I don't see a Top Golf coming here any time soon much less a Pappadeaux.

People always compare these two markets like it’s a one-way street, but need I remind everyone that there are a LOT of restaurants and retailers in LR that are NOT in NWA - that they wish they had...also a product of demographics and sheer numbers (larger population).


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2 minutes ago, Architect said:


People always compare these two markets like it’s a one-way street, but need I remind everyone that there are a LOT of restaurants and retailers in LR that are NOT in NWA - that they wish they had...also a product of demographics and sheer numbers (larger population).


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I agree with you.  Perhaps it's a different kind of support, demographic, or trends in Central Arkansas versus Northwest Arkansas.  Many in Northwest Arkansas are more transient.  Perhaps cause they come from alot of different places in connection to JB Hunt, Walmart, Tyson, etc.  Central Arkansas populations support more local brands.  So perhaps that's why so many national brands go to Northwest Arkansas first.  

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21 hours ago, LRretail said:

The market for restaurants in Little Rock has become saturated.  The restaurant column in the AR Dem Gaz has multiple closures every week.  Many of us that live in Little Rock support local independent restaurant operators much more than we support the national chains.  There's not as much competition in smaller towns like Benton or Bryant.  Often times we will see certain brands come into Little Rock last.  It's a combination of a couple of things - Lack of good sites and lack of enough population that will support so many restaurants.  Many restauranteurs are experiencing a shift in the market.  We're seeing alot of restaurant brands go smaller (like the Chili's on Markham across from la Madeleine).  Younger diners are using online apps more to order and buy.  Home delivery increases double digits every year.  Foot traffic into restaurants are generally less and has declined quarter after quarter.  This is a nationwide trend as well.   Just my two cents and what some observations have been in the market. 

While it’s good for locals supporting local restaurants,  the market is not saturated with restaurants nor is the population any smaller than some of the markets where major restaurants concepts (ex: Chattanooga, Des Moines, Shreveport, etc) are located. The main problem with the Little Rock market is over saturated with multiple shopping developments (ex: Promenade At Chenal, Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center, the failed Shackleford Crossing, Park Avenue, and Gateway Town Center) across the city. That’s too many shopping centers for a mid-size market and is confusing companies who is still trying to find a site in the Little Rock area. I remember when Belk was originally supposed to go where Walmart now stands at the Shackleford Crossing site, but Belk bought Parisian, who was at the Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center for a short time, and have decided to cancelled plans for the Shackleford Crossing site. Others smaller retailers (ex: Rack Room Shoes) have closed shops in older shopping development in favor of newer development such as the Outlets of Little Rock in the Gateway Town Center development. I have spoken with several major restaurant chains and non- chain restaurants who all said they are unwilling to open a location in LR due to lack of sites available or the fact the shopping area is not in a dense area of town. Even some local restaurants have closed over the past few months due to poor location in the city  (ex Sharks Fish and Chicken is over saturated the market).  As mentioned previously, had Little Rock build one major shopping center (ex: the failed Simon’s Summit Mall, Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga, TN; Pinnacle Hills Promenade in Rogers, AR; or Jordan Creek Town Center in Des Moines, MA)  rather than these mini strip centers that has been constructed over the years, I guarantee a million dollar that the Little Rock restaurant and retail market will be so much better. I bet Apple Store, J. Crew, and some of the other Promenade At Chenal tenants would have located at Simon’s Summit Mall along with other companies not presence  in the market. 

Edited by ecity3138
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20 hours ago, LRretail said:

I haven't seen that article and have no doubt that may be the case.  But I'm not sure that many restaurants in Central Arkansas are seeing that type of increase...  I wish we were able to get more statistics from A&P to study that.  But a law passed a couple of years ago stopped that.  In past years, development teams from a number of national brands have expressed concern that the market isn't strong enough in Little Rock (due to level of competition, population numbers, check averages, work force pool) to make a major investment.  The Red Robin in Benton is purely a play in connection with GBT Realty which is a national landlord that operates all across the country and has a close relationship with Red Robin.  But they wouldn't make the same play in Little Rock.  I'm not trying to say anything negative but there ARE reasons why we don't get many of the same brands in Little Rock and Central Arkansas as a hole in comparison to Northwest Arkansas perhaps.  I don't see a Top Golf coming here any time soon much less a Pappadeaux.

Topgolf will eventually come to the Little Rock area (possible the North Little Rock area) in the future especially if they are planning on opening a NWA locations. 

 

Pappadeaux is a family owned restaurant chain who opens two restaurants  a year. Right now, they said Arkansas is not on their construction calendar but that don’t mean they will never come here. Even some larger cities such as Las Vegas, New York City, Oklahoma City, or Orlando don’t have one yet. Most of the new Pappadeaux location have been centered around the Texas area  since their main headquarters is in Houston. They have barely open a Birmingham location not too long ago.

Edited by ecity3138

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FWIW regarding Top Golf... I have a family member that works at TG HQ in Dallas so she kept me updated on the AR situation. She said the company actually very much considered both LR and NWA but not both (at least for the foreseeable future). According to her, they wanted to make LR work (first choice being somewhere along the river) but couldn't find the right space to do it. When it came down to it, the only land in Central AR that they could make work was ultimately too far outside of the city. NWA offered more site flexibility and access to the Walmart money. Oh well, at least LR had a fighting chance.

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FWIW regarding Top Golf... I have a family member that works at TG HQ in Dallas so she kept me updated on the AR situation. She said the company actually very much considered both LR and NWA but not both (at least for the foreseeable future). According to her, they wanted to make LR work (first choice being somewhere along the river) but couldn't find the right space to do it. When it came down to it, the only land in Central AR that they could make work was ultimately too far outside of the city. NWA offered more site flexibility and access to the Walmart money. Oh well, at least LR had a fighting chance.

Cool info, but the areas are separated by 200 miles and share virtually no common market. I don’t get the logic in a zero-sum game (i.e. only one or the other).


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1 minute ago, Architect said:


Cool info, but the areas are separated by 200 miles and share virtually no common market. I don’t get the logic in a zero-sum game (i.e. only one or the other).


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I don't think it necessarily had anything to do with possible market competition between the two. Apparently the company has been really focused on growing its national footprint with what she explained was a new, scaled-back concept for smaller markets. They obviously liked the idea of expanding into Arkansas with it but didn't want to focus on multiple locations in the state for right now as they are pursuing a more widespread reach.

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On 9/10/2018 at 12:48 PM, WLRMama said:

Don't know if this has been posted yet, but Grub's is moving in to the old Chili's once they relocate to W.Markham. 

Chili's has already removed the signs from the building and the awnings.  

When is the new location supposed to open? 

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On 9/5/2018 at 10:54 AM, ecity3138 said:

While it’s good for locals supporting local restaurants,  the market is not saturated with restaurants nor is the population any smaller than some of the markets where major restaurants concepts (ex: Chattanooga, Des Moines, Shreveport, etc) are located. The main problem with the Little Rock market is over saturated with multiple shopping developments (ex: Promenade At Chenal, Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center, the failed Shackleford Crossing, Park Avenue, and Gateway Town Center) across the city. 

While I agree with you that the centers in Little Rock are far too dispersed, I'll have to respectfully disagree with your comment that the market isn't saturated.  I'm heavily involved in the restaurant industry in Central Arkansas.  Restaurant consumers are changing nationwide with our market getting the trends of those changes a little bit later than many other major markets.  In the transitions section of ArDemGaz every week there are a significant number of restaurants closing and just as many opening.  We are a "foodie" town.  That's what's so great about us.  We've got fantastic homegrown brands (David's, Slim Chickens, Yellow Rocket, etc).  The hard truth is that often when national brands come to Little Rock they get disappointed in the sales numbers.  We all love Little Rock.  At least I do.  But that's the realism of the trend in the City.  There's too many.  I've had in depth hours long conversations with multiple restaurant owners.  The majority of them say at some point in the conversation, "We just wish sales figures were better.  There's too much competition for us in some portions of the City".  

Those are comments coming from real world restaurant operators here in Little Rock, both chain and independent.  Sales might be up or down as a whole.  I don't have those figures.  But per location sales are down at a time when they should be up.  The market is just overbuilt.  

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17 hours ago, LRretail said:

While I agree with you that the centers in Little Rock are far too dispersed, I'll have to respectfully disagree with your comment that the market isn't saturated.  I'm heavily involved in the restaurant industry in Central Arkansas.  Restaurant consumers are changing nationwide with our market getting the trends of those changes a little bit later than many other major markets.  In the transitions section of ArDemGaz every week there are a significant number of restaurants closing and just as many opening.  We are a "foodie" town.  That's what's so great about us.  We've got fantastic homegrown brands (David's, Slim Chickens, Yellow Rocket, etc).  The hard truth is that often when national brands come to Little Rock they get disappointed in the sales numbers.  We all love Little Rock.  At least I do.  But that's the realism of the trend in the City.  There's too many.  I've had in depth hours long conversations with multiple restaurant owners.  The majority of them say at some point in the conversation, "We just wish sales figures were better.  There's too much competition for us in some portions of the City".  

Those are comments coming from real world restaurant operators here in Little Rock, both chain and independent.  Sales might be up or down as a whole.  I don't have those figures.  But per location sales are down at a time when they should be up.  The market is just overbuilt.  

That’s why the market should not be over saturated with these small strip centers that open in the mid- 2000s. People are not going to drive one end of the town to dine at a local eatery when they can go to a similar eatery nearby that’s just as good. The Promenade At Chenal has a mix of some wonderful local dining options  (ex: Local Lime is one of my favorites at the shopping center) but Midtown or Shackleford Crossing eateries has eateries that’s just as good as the ones at the Promenade At Chenal. Also, when you have different restaurant brands offering the same food, it causes one of those restaurant brand’s sales to decline which eventually lead to closure. As an example, there are too many burger chains (ex: Big Orange, Five Guys, David’s Burgers, Burger 21, Wayback Burgers, and now Freddy’s Frozen Custard Burger) around the city that offer similar items on the menu which confuse people on which one to eat at.  I may mentioned this on an early post but the city is in desperate need of a true full service seafood restaurant (besides Red Lobster, Cajun’s Wharf, and Arthur’s Seafood) in the area and hoping a seafood restaurant would locate at the Gateway Town Center development in the near future.

With restaurants and breweries opening in the downtown area as more people are moving back downtown, the questions remains as to what will be the future of the existing restaurants in the western part of town. 

I, too, love Little Rock and want to see the city’s  population and economy grow, but it’s just depressing seeing empty  buildings around the city and reading multiple restaurant closures  on the Arkansas Democrat Gazette paper almost every week. It’s also stirs confusion among companies who is looking to open in the Little Rock area. Many companies I spoke to pass up LR for other similar cities (Shreveport, Des Moines, etc) because of lack of good sites rather than the market itself.

Though it’s hard to compete with big national brands, local restauranteaur can still be successful and offer something that national brands can’t such as  friendly customer service, fresh quality ingredients on the menu, atmosphere and price value. For example, it would be too expensive for McDonald’s to offer an  real organic beef burger that Big Orange (also my favorite) offer for a couple of bucks more.

Overall, there’s still room for new restaurants to come in the city, it’s just finding the right site and area  of town to locate where projected sales will be favorable among the  company and offering some cuisine unique to the area. The local and non-local restaurants in the city need to step up their game with better service, fresh quality ingredients in terms of food quality, atmosphere, and price value in order to survive in the local restaurant market. Even if the food was the best out of this world, people will not dine at that particular restaurant  if they encounter  rude customer service for example.

Edited by ecity3138

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