Archive for category Pie Hole

The 2014 Little Rock Food Wish List

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Recently on Bourbon and Boots, I tackled the topic of “food road trips.” The piece focused on various cities and towns throughout the South, which, in my opinion, were destination spots for food adventures. Inevitably, there was some banter on social media about whether or not Little Rock is one of these places—a town where people venture just for the wonderful food options.

In my opinion, it is not … yet.

But we are getting there.

Here are just a few of the things I believe would add to the food community here and help put us on the map:

Breakfast, please
I wish we could have a few more breakfast options, to be more specific, maybe a place or two specializing in breakfast tacos. I’d also like to toss the idea for an authentic kolache store. I think some quick, run-in/run-out spots like these would absolutely kill in Little Rock.

That’s a sandwich!
Make no mistake, we have some wonderful sandwich options, especially in WLR, were there seems to be 20 sandwich shops in a 3-mile radius. In the center of town, there’s Hillcrest Artisan Meats, Jimmy’s and a host of restaurants with fantastic sandwich menu options. But we need a true deli! The kind of place where a pastrami on rye is what brings you through the door. I’m talking about a true, NY-style delicatessen.

Why not Thai?
Can someone please explain to me why there aren’t more Thai restaurants in Little Rock? Specifically, I’d like to see one within a mile of my front door. I adore Chang’s Thai in Sherwood, but it’s a little far for me to drive on a routine basis.

We’ll keep the light on for you
Three words: late.night.diner. You can’t tell me a 24-hour diner either in Hillcrest or downtown wouldn’t be a wonderful addition to our current dining landscape. Every great food town (example: Austin) has a few places where they always keep the light on.

Pie House
We obviously love our pie in this area of the country…but why don’t we have a shop in Little Rock exclusively dedicated to selling them? People in other cities wait out in the street for fresh, homemade pies at local shops.

Artisan Chocolate Shop
Who doesn’t love a fine, $3 piece of artisan chocolate? I know a few spots in town are doing fudge, but how about one of those fancy, shmancy places where buying chocolate is a true experience?

Signature BBQ
Plain and simple…we need an award-winning barbeque joint, a place people would travel from other states just to check out. This town resides in the South and our state mascot is a pig, yet Little Rock lacks that one, magical, put-us-on-the-map, barbeque spot. I’d go to Dallas just for Pecan Lodge, Kansas City for Oklahoma Joe’s, and Memphis for BBQ Shop…but no place like that truly stands out in Little Rock.

What would you like to add or subtract from this list? Would love to hear about it in the comment box below.

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Pie Hole: Social Media Eludes Many Little Rock Restaurants, But Not All

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Can someone please explain to me why so many Little Rock restaurants continue to resist implementing social media into their marketing plan? I wrote about this issue last year, and sadly, not much has changed for the better.

Having an adequate website, along with maintaining a strong presence on Twitter and Facebook, are absolutely essential for a restaurant these days. But why aren’t most places doing all three? Is it a lack of awareness/knowledge, outright laziness, or a combination of both? Whatever the reason(s), it seems many places throughout the Little Rock area are missing a golden opportunity to increase exposure and potentially sales (at a fairly low cost).

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

Here are some establishments who seem to be handling their social media business quite well.

Mugs Café: The fairly new café in NLR maintains a clean, simple, and beautiful website. This certainly echoes the vibe you get when having a cup of coffee inside Mugs. And although Twitter and Facebook follower numbers are still somewhat low, due in large part to its newness, Mugs regularly updates both mediums with messages and pictures. I suspect these figures will rise steadily in the future.

Hot Dog Mike: I couldn’t stand that ridiculous “Until We Meet Again” campaign (fueled in large part by social media) and I wasn’t a fan of his Kickstarter (not big on any business doing it), but there is absolutely no denying his social media magic. Dude has 6,400 Facebook followers and just as many on Twitter. He’s constantly posting location updates and pictures, as well as interacting on a regular basis with his legion of fans. Hot Dog Mike’s website reads more like a blog roll, but that’s really splitting hairs…it’s there and serves its purpose.

South on Main Brings It

South on Main Brings It

South on Main: The coolest spot in Little Rock has only been in existence for a few months, but is there any other restaurant doing a better job on social media? No. Hell, they’ve almost reached 4,000 Facebook fans, an insane number in such a short period of time. SoM’s Twitter numbers are much lower, but they do an excellent job of going back and forth with the followers they do have, many of which are avid local foodies. With a gorgeous website, excellent musical event promotions, and fantastic food pics, it’s easy to see why South on Main is currently king.

Big Orange: Right up there in the social media world with SoM, Big Orange has an elite, user-friendly website, equipped with testimonials and pictures, as well as solid numbers on both Twitter and Facebook. Both accounts, Big Orange West and Big Orange Midtown, excel at promoting events, specials, and giveaways, while also exhibiting a warmth towards customers.

The Southern Gourmasian: This is Little Rock’s #1 food truck, due in large part to Chef Patterson’s creatively tasty creations, but also because of a consistent social media presence. The numbers won’t jump out at you, but followers can always expect regular locations updates, along with a well-maintained website. I wish chef would engage his loyal fans more often on Twitter, but it’s understandable why he doesn’t. I can only imagine how difficult and time-consuming it is to run a food truck.

Notes on some other spots worth mentioning:

Waffle Wagon: Fairly new food truck in town. Great on Twitter—funny and really engages followers. Growing Facebook presence. No website, but not absolutely crucial.

The Pantry: Continues to do a solid job…would enjoy more tweets.

Local Lime: Wait, no website? What’s the deal with that? Great on Twitter, always quick to respond.

The Faded Rose: One of the better Facebook accounts in Little Rock. Adequate website. Technically, they have a Twitter account (almost never updated).

What are you thoughts on my list? Agree or disagree? Any major omissions? Would love to know.

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Pie Hole: Little Rock Food Scene Remains in a Holding Pattern

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A few weeks ago, I posed this question to readers: “How would you describe your local food scene in a couple words?” Personally, for Little Rock, I chose “getting there.”

For many restauranteurs, “getting there” generally takes about twice as long as originally anticipated–things go wrong, problems arise, inspections fail…and so on.

But there’s another side to a city’s food scene “getting there.” It’s about finding your identity, creating new and exciting dishes, and challenging the diners to step outside the proverbial box. To me, Little Rock’s future restaurant identity will lie in the farm-to-table concept, and how many more chefs decide to put their creative spin on these locally-sourced ingredients.

We’re surrounded by great farms, run by wonderful farmers–many of whom I’ve met in some form or fashion this year. We have amazing local ingredients at our fingertips and a segment of the population who is beginning to seek out these items. Don’t believe me? Just check out the crowded farmers markets on weekends.

Make no mistake, the Little Rock food scene is “getting there,” but it takes time, and for now…we’re left to ponder what the future may hold.

South on Main, a restaurant which could potentially change the entire landscape of Little Rock’s downtown food scene, as well as the SoMa neighborhood, is still not open. That could change, very soon, but as to when…your guess is as good as mine.

Creative young chefs and bakers search for elusive brick and mortar spots, yet still find their success at small farmer market stands and mobile food trucks. That could soon change, but as to when…your guess is as good as mine.

Two of our “top” chefs, Lee Richardson and Donnie Ferneau, currently do not reside in restaurant kitchens. Who knows if that could change, and if or when…your guess is as good as mine.

One definite is that we will continue to see the infiltration of mega-chains like Mellow Mushroom, Chuy’s, and Twin Peaks, especially in areas like West Little Rock, where large plots of land around Chenal Parkway remain undeveloped.

For better or worse, Little Rock’s food scene is going to look a lot different one year from now. With local talent, along with a growing foodie fan base, the potential is limitless. I have hopes that by next year, my words to describe the Little Rock food scene will be “progressive” and “innovative.”

We’ll get there…one of these days.

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Pie Hole: Handling Criticism in the Food World

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I used my last Pie Hole entry as an opportunity to blast Little Rock eateries for their lack of social media use as it pertains to growing business and reaching an audience. It was a broad, brushstroke criticism, as I chose not to single out specific restaurants. Truthfully, there were just too many establishments to criticize and I often like to keep things short and sweet.

Over the past few months since the piece, that word “criticism” has been stuck in my brain. The more and more I read…the more I realize there’s a large population in Little Rock that just doesn’t like any form of criticism, as it pertains to food.

There’s almost this “how dare you” mentality going on, not only from readers and commenters, but also from restaurants and food shop owners. Does this sound familiar?: “I’ve been going to X restaurant for 12 years and they’ve never made a bad pasta primavera.”

Look….there’s only a handful of individuals in this town who even write about food on a regular basis. Do you really think they are trying to tear down a business through negative words? Think again—it’s really just the opposite.

I get it, a person’s business is their livelihood, their dream, their everything. Writing negative things about it should never be taken lightly. Posts can quickly go viral, and a writer would never want to maliciously hurt someone’s business. But without some constructive criticism from time-to-time, how can things improve?

Don’t we want to raise the culinary bar in Little Rock? How can this be done if everything is already perfect? As writers, it’s our responsibility to highlight the good but also mention the bad. Maybe, just maybe, a restaurant owner will read our review and think: “Hey, they might be right. Maybe I do need to change this up a bit.” This could potentially lead to more customers and higher profits.

As a blogger, I’m somewhat of a business owner. Sure, I don’t make any money from The Mighty Rib, but I maintain this site as if it was bringing in the dough. That’s to say I care about it…tremendously. And if someone wrote negative comments about an aspect of my writing, of course I’d take it personally and be disappointed, but I’d also certainly take it to heart.

What if they’re right? Shouldn’t I first look at it from their critical perspective? Instead of saying “how dare you” maybe I should say “how can I get better?” What if I chose to build off the criticism, rather than let it tear me down? Heck, I could potentially end up with more readers, more comments, and an overall stronger blog.

Little Rock, it’s time to take the high road when it comes to accepting criticism. It could lead to great things.

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