Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Frank's Hickory House in Choctaw: "NJOI yursef."

If you aren't familiar with the Choctaw community in Arkansas, you should be... though I'll forgive you if you think it's just part of Clinton. Choctaw is a tiny burg just south of Clinton (which uses the Clinton ZIP code) that's home to a couple hundred people and a restaurant that's been going some 40 years or more.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Nana Deane's Pride and Joy at Ray's Dairy Maid in Barton.

A little dairy bar on US Highway 70 is the single spot where Alton Brown had an Arkansas bite when he Feasted On Asphalt along the Great River Road. But the woman who runs the place and the pie she makes are both worthy of tales to share. Let’s visit Ray’s Dairy Maid.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Central Avenue Eats: Angel's in Hot Springs.

While exploring Hot Springs Bathhouse Row, one might pick up a substantial appetite.  If that appetite is for Italian food, you might make your culinary destination Angel’s Pastaria.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mile High Goodbye for Ed and Kay's in Benton.

It’s been a sad week for history here in Arkansas. First, a push to restore Hot Springs’ Majestic Hotel followed by its tragic burning… and then an end to the famed Mile High Pies.

Ed and Kay’s Restaurant’s doors closed for the final time today.

The restaurant has been a mainstay for generations of Benton residents. Originally Ed and Alma’s, the name changed to Ed and Kay’s in 1982 when the Diemers took on the operation of the place. It quickly earned a reputation as a stand-up place for dining, with great big breakfasts and good standard lunches and oh, those Mile High Pies.

I’ve talked about Ed and Kay’s over and over again through the years… and I’ve bragged on it to many. That’s part of the reason why, when I was contacted earlier today by a fan who went there and was told the restaurant was “closed forever,” that I had to get up and head straight to Benton. I could not conjure a coherent idea that the place was closed.

But indeed it was… the “for sale” signs already up when I drove into the parking lot. One of the regulars who was leaving told me where to find Kay Diemer – inside. Hunter and I waited for permission before we were allowed to head through the kitchens and into the dining room.

We overheard conversation between a firefighter and Kay… turns out, Kay had already made the decision that this would be the final day of operations, and she had closed the doors at noon. But at 1:30 she smelled something funny, and on investigation she found a small fire which she put out with a fire extinguisher.

I saw the kitchen and the dining rooms. Everything was fine. The small fire had been off the kitchen area, overhead in that small space between the dropped ceiling and the roof.

It doesn’t matter. I talked with Kay for a moment after that. After 32 years, it’s just time to be done. Family members aren’t interested in continuing the restaurant, good help is hard to find and frankly, as Kay told me, it wasn’t making money like it used to. Closing a landmark is never an easy decision, but she feels it’s the right one.

Could Ed and Kay’s come back? I wonder if someone had that thought about Ed and Alma’s back in 1982. Things change. What’s available right now is a turnkey operation for a young restaurateur who’d like to capitalize on a prime piece of real estate. I don’t know how much is being asked (Kay was still getting combobulated after the day’s events) but the number to call is (501) 672-6585. This could be your lucky day.

But for the rest of us, let us lament for just a moment those amazing pies.

Ed & Kay's Restaurant on Urbanspoon