RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS

RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: McClard’s Stagecoach Road ‘branch’ closes; Whataburger, Chipotle set for Hot Springs’ Central Avenue space

The sign in front of McClards BBQ in Hot Springs is shown in this 2015 file photo. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Linda Haymes)
The sign in front of McClards BBQ in Hot Springs is shown in this 2015 file photo. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Linda Haymes)


The McClard's Bar-B-Que "branch" at 9219 Stagecoach Road, Little Rock, has apparently closed. The phone number, (501) 821-3344, has been disconnected -- "not a working number," according to the recording; its Facebook page (facebook.com/profile.php?id=100090069680039) proclaims it "temporarily closed"; the website (mcclardsstagecoach.com) apparently has vanished from the face of the web. ("Hmm. We're having trouble finding that site. We can't connect to the server at mcclardsstagecoach.com.")

McClard's formed a 2022 partnership with Down Home Restaurant & Catering at that address in 2022, then took over the operation altogether in February as McClard's and Down Home Catering owner Tori Morehart went their separate ways.

McClard's owner Lee Beasley told us in June that the southwest Little Rock restaurant, McClard's owned-and-operated, was "doing OK," though business wasn't overwhelming and the location wasn't ideal -- it was providing McClard's with a kitchen for a catering operation and a place to train people while he and his business manager have been seeking sites for one or two Little Rock-area restaurants with drive-thru capability. No word yet on the status of that search.

McClard's, which continues to pack its original house at 505 Albert Pike, Hot Springs, first took its signature barbecue and tamale spread to the center of Central Arkansas via a food truck in November 2020. The status of that truck is uncertain; the last post on its Facebook page (facebook.com/McClardsTruck) was in May 2021. Meanwhile, a McClard's operating under a franchise opened in June in Rockport, on the outskirts of Malvern.

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And speaking of Hot Springs, the Sentinel-Record reports to expect Whataburger and Chipotle franchises to open in late spring or early summer of 2024 in the currently vacant, 7,000-square-foot space at 4104 Central Ave. that formerly housed a Buffalo Wild Wings.

Brian Waxler of Green Meadow Capital, a commercial real estate company that acquired the building in 2015, submitted a site plan in December 2022 proposing a Whataburger for the west side of the building and a Chipotle for the east side. A Fort Worth build-to-suit developer subsequently acquired the building for $2.4 million, according to property records.

Hot Springs Metro Partnership President/CEO Gary Troutman hinted that the burger chain could be coming to Hot Springs in the October economic development report he gave the Hot Springs Board of Directors at its Nov. 14 agenda meeting: "Good news from Whataburger," he said. "They've opened in Benton/Bryant. I'd like to think Hot Springs will be the next one."

Whataburger recently opened an outlet at 20461 Interstate 30 in Benton, and in the past year or so Whataburgers have sprouted up in west Little Rock, North Little Rock (on the approach to Maumelle) and Searcy.

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And we're working to confirm reports that Matt Quin and business partner Radiance Beltz are looking to open their Caverns & Forests board game cafe, sometime next week at 711A Main St., North Little Rock. Quin described the concept to another publication as a restaurant/entertainment hybrid, where guests can play board and card games while being served food and drink. Guests are to pay a $5 cover fee (membership plans will be available); the menu will feature appetizers, salads, grilled paninis and wraps and beer and wine. We're told, by the way, that Quin formerly managed Boulevard Bread and ZAZA Fine Salad + Wood-Oven Pizza Co. Hours are to be 3:30-10 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday, 3:30-11 p.m. Thursday-Friday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; Sunday hours are possible/pending. There's nothing yet where a website, cavernsandforests.com, is supposed to be; the Facebook page is facebook.com/cavernsandforests.

Has a restaurant opened -- or closed -- near you in the last week or so? Does your favorite eatery have a new menu? Is there a new chef in charge? Drop us a line. Send email to: [email protected]


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