Newk's to town 

Little Rock can no longer say we have no Newk's.

Sean Sylvester and partners in Mkuze Ventures are remodeling the building that held Shorty Small's off Warden Road in North Little Rock for a Newk's Express Cafe, set for a mid-May opening.

Newk's will serve soups, salads, sandwiches, California-style (thin crust) pizza and beer and wine. Sylvester said the food will be fresh — "no microwave, no grease" — and the atmosphere "upscale bistro." Service will be fast, and only one item on the menu will be over $10.

After the remodeling is done, Newk's will seat 160 inside and another 44 outside on a patio to be added.

Sylvester's group also owns the Newk's franchise in Hot Springs; Sylvester was formerly the director of operations for Applebee's restaurants in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The Riverdale 10 movie house on Cantrell Road is giving new meaning to the phrase "dinner and a movie": It's now serving meals, both for take-out or eat-in right there in the theater.

A reader and foodie asked us to find out what the "Hot Food Fast" sign at Riverdale referred to. Assistant manager Anthony McKinney clued us in. The theater — for the past two months, we blush to acknowledge — is selling fried catfish, fried shrimp, chicken strips, chicken fries, tater tots, corn dogs, cheese fries and, yes, fried okra to moviegoers. The food comes in a styrofoam container. Here's the kicker: It's cheaper to eat three pieces of catfish with french fries, hushpuppies and a drink ($7.75) than it is to order a small popcorn and a small soda ($8). Fried chicken combos are even cheaper, and chicken sandwiches cheaper still.

So, we asked, doesn't this mean the theater will need a super clean-up after each showing? That not only will popcorn and Coke stick to your shoes as you exit, but you might squish a catfish fillet dropped by the guy down the row from you? "That's why we have to be on top on cleaning," McKinney said. He said the theater has a "great crew."

The idea came from manager Stacy Ford, who saw something similar at a movie house in Dallas. So far, it's been a success at night, McKinney said. And how long does it take to get your food? "It's fast, like the sign says," McKinney said, cooked to order in the Riverdale kitchen that, until now, wasn't living up to its potential.


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