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Restaurant Development in Little Rock Metro area


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Burger 21, Zen Thai, Zoe's Kitchen, Krispy Kreme, Mooyah have all closed in West Little Rock in the last 30 days or so.  Look for more closings as the restaurant trend moves more towards off-premise 3rd party delivery.  Smaller footprints with less foot traffic in the store.  More kiosks replacing traditional order taking at the counter particularly in QSR concepts.  Increase in self check out in grocery as well.  Increase to $11/hr minimum wage is changing the labor market.  Those that can't absorb (usually chains as we are seeing) are closing their doors.  Also an increasing rate of closures in Chenal Promenade.  Some new concepts opening in vacant spaces.  Time will tell if those will stay.  Look for more restaurant closings around Cantrell and Taylor Loop as well as Chenal and Markham.  

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16 hours ago, LRretail said:

Burger 21, Zen Thai, Zoe's Kitchen, Krispy Kreme, Mooyah have all closed in West Little Rock in the last 30 days or so.  Look for more closings as the restaurant trend moves more towards off-premise 3rd party delivery.  Smaller footprints with less foot traffic in the store.  More kiosks replacing traditional order taking at the counter particularly in QSR concepts.  Increase in self check out in grocery as well.  Increase to $11/hr minimum wage is changing the labor market.  Those that can't absorb (usually chains as we are seeing) are closing their doors.  Also an increasing rate of closures in Chenal Promenade.  Some new concepts opening in vacant spaces.  Time will tell if those will stay.  Look for more restaurant closings around Cantrell and Taylor Loop as well as Chenal and Markham.  

We liked Burger 21 and went there fairly often, but admittedly, it was pretty expensive.  It also didn't have good visibility.  Zoe's?  I'd say undone by Taziki's next door (and in the market), which is WORLDS better in my opinion.  Mooyah isn't a surprise, but I'd say Krispy Kreme was...even though I think Shipley's is much better.  It's hard to fathom how donut places stay open at $0.48 per unit price points.

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2 hours ago, Architect said:

We liked Burger 21 and went there fairly often, but admittedly, it was pretty expensive.  It also didn't have good visibility.  Zoe's?  I'd say undone by Taziki's next door (and in the market), which is WORLDS better in my opinion.  Mooyah isn't a surprise, but I'd say Krispy Kreme was...even though I think Shipley's is much better.  It's hard to fathom how donut places stay open at $0.48 per unit price points.

It's a much more simple theory.  Central Arkansas in general is very adverse to chains.  There are exceptions like Chick-Fila and things like that.  But anyone looking to introduce chains to Central Arkansas is usually in for a hard fought situation.  Many chain restaurants that do gangbusters in other markets do not experience similar sales in Little Rock but it's the same in Conway, NLR, Benton, Bryant, etc.  One good example is Blaze Pizza.  It's the fastest growing, often more profitable chains in the country.  But the franchisee who signed a multi-store deal for Arkansas has stopped building stores after Conway and Little Rock.  Most likely those existing stores are up for sale.  I'm hearing discussions that the one in Pleasant Ridge will close.  Krispy Kreme stores overbuilt and alot of them have closed but the one on Shackleford shouldn't have. Donuts do make money or else the Shipleys wouldn't be open.  But we all support Shipleys over Krispy Kreme.  David's Burgers over all the others.  Slim Chickens and Chick Fila over the others.  Tacos4Life over the others.  On and on it goes.  So we can't expect Joe's Crab Shack or something like that cause there's just not enough support there.  

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It's a much more simple theory.  Central Arkansas in general is very adverse to chains.  There are exceptions like Chick-Fila and things like that.  But anyone looking to introduce chains to Central Arkansas is usually in for a hard fought situation.  Many chain restaurants that do gangbusters in other markets do not experience similar sales in Little Rock but it's the same in Conway, NLR, Benton, Bryant, etc.  One good example is Blaze Pizza.  It's the fastest growing, often more profitable chains in the country.  But the franchisee who signed a multi-store deal for Arkansas has stopped building stores after Conway and Little Rock.  Most likely those existing stores are up for sale.  I'm hearing discussions that the one in Pleasant Ridge will close.  Krispy Kreme stores overbuilt and alot of them have closed but the one on Shackleford shouldn't have. Donuts do make money or else the Shipleys wouldn't be open.  But we all support Shipleys over Krispy Kreme.  David's Burgers over all the others.  Slim Chickens and Chick Fila over the others.  Tacos4Life over the others.  On and on it goes.  So we can't expect Joe's Crab Shack or something like that cause there's just not enough support there.  

Interesting take. So some of these changes are unique to our market (aversion to chains/great local options), yet some are industry-wide trends (per your original post about delivery, etc).

Two chain options which I think are excellent, and I hope stay around, are Five Guys, which we frequent (I think it’s better than David’s) and La Madeleines (which I should visit more often).

p.s. Another example of the local aversion to chains might be Fuzzy’s Tacos. They announced entrance into the market, but so very strangely, their first location was in an out of the way location in Jacksonville, of all places. The few times we went, it was virtually empty - which wasn’t really a surprise to me. I can’t image who locally advised them to start there, but that seems to have been a one and done, in spite of their seeming popularity in other markets, and ironically, urban locations in other markets (thinking of the PACKED example I witnessed in Brick Town in OKC). I might add that their food is pretty awful, so maybe it’s just that everywhere else has low standards!


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Zoes closed?  Not surprised.  I went in it once and left without ordering.

What restaurants in Little Rock have the most sales?  I can guarantee it's not Trio's, Capitol Smokehouse, or David's Burgers.  For years it was Red Lobster or McDonalds.  Not sure what chain it is currently. 

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Zoe's actually opened back up due to the their contractual agreements when the property was sold.  Although I think it will close again in the near future.  Red Lobster and Olive Garden continue to drop in sales.  They do ok in Little Rock but follow the downward trend of the brands nationally.  David's Burgers actually does fairly well with average unit volume of around $2M  in its 10 locations in Central Arkansas.  The same goes for Tacos4Life and Slim Chickens.  Both of those brands do very well in our area.  McDonalds stores still see high volumes no surprises there although they're on a slightly downward trend compared to last two years sales.  It takes about $3M in sales to break even in a full size McDonalds operation.  Chick-Fil-A is the leader in sales in Central Arkansas with between $3.7M - $4.9M sales figures throughout the Central Arkansas area.  Overall local chains as an aggregate are beating out the national competition in our market with a few exceptions.  

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
Raisin Canes is opening a second location at 6001 S University, which is just north of 65th St.  That seems like a strange location to me.   

You sure that’s not in the new development at the former Sears property? That was an early tenant listed for that area.

 

Check that. Just looked it up. Surely that’s a typo?

 

 

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Just now, Architect said:


You sure that’s not in the new development at the former Sears property? That was an early tenant listed for that area.


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You're probably right.  I got the address from the state plumbing permit website.  They must have added an extra digit to the address by mistake.  601 S University would make more sense. 

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Midtown should be a better location than the NLR one. The one they are building now is literally next door to Popeye's and across the street from a Chick-fil-a that does $6 million in sales a year.
 

Raising Cane’s is better than both of them, though maybe not as popular. Yet.


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  • 10 months later...
Grub’s has closed their Rodney Parham location according to their post on Facebook. However, in that same post, they announced that Gusano’s would be returning to Little Rock at that Rodney Parham location.  

Not surprised about Grub’s. I had eaten at their Fayetteville location a few times and was unimpressed, and then a few times at this new Little Rock location and it was downright average...never bothered to go back.

BUT...SO glad to hear about Gusano’s. I love their pizza and was sad when the closed their River Market location (which never made sense to me since it was always busy).


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18 hours ago, Architect said:


Not surprised about Grub’s. I had eaten at their Fayetteville location a few times and was unimpressed, and then a few times at this new Little Rock location and it was downright average...never bothered to go back.

BUT...SO glad to hear about Gusano’s. I love their pizza and was sad when the closed their River Market location (which never made sense to me since it was always busy).


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I'm excited about Gusano's taking over that location.  My two favorite pizza places were, until Gusano's closed, Gusano's and Damgoode Pies.   Neither of them had a West Little Rock location, until now.   Damgoode used to have a delivery service location in Trellis Square, but it's been closed for several years now. 

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  • 2 months later...
So I noticed a plumbing permit was submitted for Cheesecake Factory. Anyone know anything about that? Address is 9809 W Markham, which seems like an odd location if it’s actually for a Cheesecake Factory...

Interesting, but that address can’t be correct.


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1 hour ago, LR501 said:

So I noticed a plumbing permit was submitted for Cheesecake Factory. Anyone know anything about that? Address is 9809 W Markham, which seems like an odd location if it’s actually for a Cheesecake Factory...

That is actually for a local business called "Cheesecake on point!".  You can see on the following Facebook post and comments that they started working on a space in that address.

https://www.facebook.com/104889267573693/posts/408606573868626/

No idea why would they submit it as Cheesecake Factory.

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21 hours ago, Engineer said:

That is actually for a local business called "Cheesecake on point!".  You can see on the following Facebook post and comments that they started working on a space in that address.

https://www.facebook.com/104889267573693/posts/408606573868626/

No idea why would they submit it as Cheesecake Factory.

Ah, that makes much more sense. I was thinking something didn’t look quite right. What a tease haha.

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