You can't tell it from the outside, but the Capital Hotel renovation is nearing completion and a September opening is still planned, general manager Joe Rantisi said.

The kitchen has been certified for use by city inspectors and executive chef Lee Richardson has been on staff for a year preparing for the reopening of Ashley's and the Capital Bar, each with its own kitchen. The new hotel will have three more kitchens for function rooms.

Richardson, who came from Chef John Besh's lauded Restaurant August in New Orleans, also has added an important addition to his staff. The executive sous chef, starting Aug. 27, will be Brian Deloney, a Little Rock native who's been working in Emeril Lagasse's restaurant empire, first at Nola in New Orleans and lately the hugely popular Delmonico Steakhouse in Las Vegas. Deloney, who has a family, was lured back to Little Rock both for the opportunity and quality of life.

More good news from The Insider's point of view: The Capital Hotel will be smoke-free. No more cigars in the bar.

Historical unrest

Word is that Gov. Mike Beebe will meet privately Monday with opponents and supporters of proposed new Education Department guidelines for teaching Arkansas history in the public schools. Some scholars say the guidelines will devalue Arkansas history. A spokesman for the governor said the meeting was set for 2 p.m. in the governor's office, but he couldn't confirm who had been invited. Other sources said that Chancellor John White of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville was one who'd been invited. Opponents say that Gail Potter, an Education Department staffer who works on curriculum, is the person behind the new guidelines. She was out of her office this week.

Milk skimmed

Little Rock grocers report that they are no longer receiving deliveries from the Mountain Springs Creamery in Marshall, a tiny outfit that brought critically acclaimed milk to dairy cases in old-fashioned glass bottles. At press time, we'd been unable to get an answer on the phone for the combination dairy and deli in Marshall.

Rumors, rumors

There are hot, but unconfirmed rumors that Little Rock School Board member Michael Daugherty will have opposition in September. There's talk of another black candidate, but one potentially more pleasing to the white business community, which hasn't been happy with votes by Daugherty.

End of an era

There's no longer a law firm bearing the name of Philip Kaplan, a pioneering civil rights lawyer. Effective Aug. 1, he became “of counsel” at the Williams and Anderson law firm, along with Jo Ann Maxey, who'd been his partner at Kaplan, Maxey, Brewer and Haralson. Si Brewer has moved out of state and Regina Haralson is ending private practice.

The firm dated to January 1978. For eight years before that, Kaplan was part of the state's first integrated law firm, along with John Walker and Richard Mays.


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