John Beachboard helps Big Orange, Local Lime and ZAZA grow from within 

He grooms employees for eatery empire.

Judging by the crowds that regularly congregate outside Big Orange, Local Lime and ZAZA and the number of awards they won in our Readers Choice survey (six first places between them), John Beachboard owns three of the most popular restaurants in Central Arkansas.

Beachboard, 33, oversees the operations for his restaurant group, which means doing everything from repairing an oven at ZAZA to offering hands-on training to all kitchen employees (currently there are around 125 of them). It's a job to which he's especially well suited: His rise, from having no professional cooking experience to becoming one of Central Arkansas's top restaurateurs, came solely under the guidance of his business partner Scott McGehee, the godfather of the local approachable gourmet movement.

After spending the first several years of his post-collegiate life working in the music business in New York, Beachboard returned home to Little Rock, took a job in the kitchen at Boulevard Bread Co. and rose to sous chef under McGehee. Before long, the two were partnering on the Napoli-style pizza and salad restaurant, ZAZA, in the Heights. Ben Brainard, chef and co-owner of gourmet Mexican restaurant Local Lime, followed a similar path. Adam Sweet, co-owner of the ZAZA in Conway, started working at Boulevard as a dishwasher.

"I like being able to bring new people into the fold. I like watching the 18, 19-year-old kid do the same thing I did, which is learn a little bit and turn it into something else," Beachboard said.

He'll have a new class of kitchen/prep employees to train — and possibly groom for more responsibility — when he and his partners open a second Big Orange in the Midtowne Little Rock shopping complex on the corner of Markham and University in June or July.

From the outside, Beachboard, McGehee and co. appear to be opening restaurants at a fevered pace — ZAZA in 2008, ZAZA Conway in 2010, Big Orange in 2011, Local Lime late last year — but Beachboard said the goal is to "grow meaningfully and responsibly."

"We're not just passionate about burgers, pizza and tacos. We're doing what we feel is going to make the market excited. Sometimes it feels trendy. But it's really just a question of reading the market and giving the people what they want."

Beachboard's restaurants have also thrived because they give people things they might not have known they wanted. Little Rock didn't know it craved the likes of a pizza topped with prosciutto and arugula or Kennebec potato French fries before ZAZA and Big Orange came along, but now that we do, there's no going back.

Speaking of...

  • The Top 10 Pizzas in Little Rock

    July 17, 2014
    It comes in a nearly endless number of styles, but no matter how you slice it, pizza remains one of the most wonderful things to ever come out of an oven. Everyone has their favorite and most of us were trained to love this stuff from a very young age. Folks will defend their favorite pizza joint until the bitter end, and Little Rock pizza lovers are no different. But some pizza joints remain popular for good reason. They rise above all others…the upper crust of Little Rock pizza. Here are our favorite pizzas in Little Rock. /more/
  • The state of Central Arkansas dining, as told by its chefs and bartenders

    May 22, 2014
    Most food enthusiasts in Arkansas can feel it — there's a lot of good going on in the Central Arkansas dining scene. There's a lot to be celebrated, many improvements being made. People are genuinely excited about what they are eating. Several Arkansas establishments are gaining national attention. Some might consider this a "turning point" for Arkansas food, a renaissance, of sorts. Are we eating at the edge of greatness? In 10 years, is Little Rock positioned to become the food world's next Austin, Portland or Nashville? /more/
  • Local Lime group buys Browning's: A Tex-Mex-leaning taco, tamale burrito joint is promised

    May 6, 2014
    Big news for eaters. The Local Lime restaurant guys have bought Browning's in the Heights and plan a restaurant that leans more Tex-Mex than Local Lime, with tacos, nachos, burritos and a setting conducive to big crowds cheering Razorback games (presuming that day ever comes again). Eat Arkansas has the scoop. /more/
  • Local Lime team buys Browning's, to open Heights Taco & Tamale Company

    May 6, 2014
    The restaurateurs behind Local Lime have purchased Brownings and will replace it with a Tex-Mex restaurant, Heights Taco & Tamale Company. The group takes ownership of the space, 5805 Kavanaugh Blvd., on July 1, after which co-owner Scott McGehee said he expects around a three-month renovation, which would put opening around early October. /more/
  • More »

Related Locations

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

  • The Gilbert Baker Is a Slimeball Edition

    New political polls, Gilbert Baker and newly released ethics commission investigative files on campaign contributions to Mike Maggio, the hypocrisy of Big River Steel’s John Correnti, the LRPD’s move to encrypt its radio broadcasts, a Little Rock City Board proposal to rollback closing time for private clubs and the Little Rock Planning Commission once again going against professional staff recommendations — all covered on this week's edition.
    • Aug 1, 2014
  • 2014 Editor's picks

    What's good, according to the Times staff.
    • Jul 30, 2014
  • More »

Latest in Cover Stories

  • Best of Arkansas 2014

    There are so many bests in Arkansas that the Arkansas Times has to put out this issue every year to cover them all.
    • Jul 30, 2014
  • Best of Arkansas 2014 readers' poll

    The people have their say.
    • Jul 30, 2014
  • 2014 Editor's picks

    What's good, according to the Times staff.
    • Jul 30, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

August

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31  
 

© 2014 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation