Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Coy's Steakhouse, Satellite Cafe Set To Return In New Hot Springs Development.

Two classic Arkansas restaurants are coming back, much to the joy of food lovers throughout The Natural State. Find out how Coy's Steakhouse and the Satellite Cafe are being revived in new digs.

The word is out - two of Arkansas' classic restaurants that have disappeared, will soon reappear in new digs in downtown Hot Springs.

Today during a special event at Little Rock's Curran Hall, the Hotel Hot Springs announced it's reviving the famous Coy's Steakhouse of Hot Springs and Satellite Cafe of Little Rock's Heights District, under its roof.  The news, announced by Hot Springs Hotel spokesman Chris Kane, is a sunburst of good news upon the state's culinary scene.

"Coming back and reinventing itself in the Spa City, the Satellite Cafe will be making its return in Hot Springs with its signature style breakfasts during the week, along with its famous brunch and dinner menus on the weekends." Kane told the crowd. 

"But of course," he continued, "we have a (Arkansas Food) Hall of Famer to reintroduce to you today. one that has so much rich history, and before a tragic fire in 2009, stood as a staple of the Spa City over decades. Ladies and gentlemen, Coy's Steakhouse is coming back, open seven days a week for dinner at the Hotel Hot Springs."

Rounds of applause greeted each of the two announcements. 

Both of these longstanding establishments have a place in the hearts of Arkansas food lovers, and both have been gone more than ten years. The effort to bring them back is much appreciated.

Chef Derek Nowell will oversee thee implementation of appropriate decor, associated menus and the atmosphere surrounding both of these grand locations. Both restaurants are expected to open in the first quarter of 2024.

Coy's in particular has been missed, not only for its famous steaks and its creamy garlic dressing, but for the very important place in the community. The venerable restaurant, long advertised as being located a thousand feet west of US Highway 70 coming into town, became the go-to place for celebrating prom nights, family reunions, business
partnerships and prosperous days  at Oaklawn Racing Park. It was not uncommon to see folks in fine attire and button-down shirts at adjacent tables.

Coy Theobalt, Sr. opened the restaurant way back in 1945, after coming up with an excellent seasoning for steaks. He worked at Myer's Bakery in Hot Springs

after returning from service in World War II, and it was at the bakery where he got into serious cooking. His eatery, opened in an old house, stood the test of time. His son, Coy Theobalt, Jr., grew up in the restaurant. As a boy, he'd place books of matches on tables and tell customers how much his family appreciated their patronage.

The restaurant would be sold to investors in 1972, a group that included Jim Manning. A Little Rock location would be opened in 1976, followed by a North Little Rock location, but by 1995 both had closed, leaving the sole original restaurant in Hot Springs. Manning's daughter, Tracy Manning Brown, would eventually take over.

Sadly, fire destroyed Coy's Steakhouse the morning of January 16, 2009, and the decision was made not to rebuild. 

"We have a category for Gone But Not Forgotten (in the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame), and guys, I think we're going to need to start a new category now called
Gone But Not Forgotten and Now Back!," Arkansas Food Hall of Fame selection committee member Rex Nelson told the assembled crowd. "Coy's would be the first one in that category!"

"I grew up in Arkadelphia, only about 30 minutes from Hot Springs, and if it was a big night out in Hot Springs, it always ended with dinner at Coy's," Nelson related. 

In 2017, Brown's son Clay Caffey resurrected some of the famed recipes from Coy's Steakhouse, including the steak seasoning and house dressing, with his new brand Coy's Southern Eats.

Caffey was on hand for the event, amd shared samples of the famed Coy's House Dressing with saltine crackers to those who came out for the announcement. Coy's Southern Eats will work with Hotel Hot Springs to ensure the flavors the company has preserved make it to the table.

One dipped cracker later, and I can confirm: that dressing is right on point.

Little Rock's beloved Satellite Cafe was an anchor for the revival of The Heights as a destination shopping and dining district in the early aughts. The classy coffeehouse on the corner of Kavanaugh and University served as a welcome breakfast spot in an awakening, walkable neighborhood (though parking was always an issue). 

For those of us who were lucky enough to enjoy the Satellite, it was a respite from busy days, with mellow music matching with a lush decor and a staff of ever-attentive waitpersons. Special orders from repeat customers would sometimes arrive at the table when those regulars would drop by.

The gorgeously golden walls and black furniture served to showcase bright plates of breakfasts, brunches, lunches and a myriad of coffee beverages throughout its time. I have a very soft spot in my heart and belly for those decadently cheesy gouda grits.

The coffeehouse will be reimagined within the Hotel Hot Springs as a place for breakfasts and brunches, with the addition of dinners that will reflect the flavors the Satellite Cafe became known for over time. 

"I think we see the investment that's being made in these iconic restaurants, the investment Keith (Holland) is making in the Hotel Hot Springs, and I think there's a bigger story here," Nelson shared. "I truly believe that Hot Springs is on the verge of a new golden era. Steve (Arrison with Visit Hot Springs) will tell you about the record tourism numbers that Hot Springs is already experiencing this year. We've seen the hundreds of millions of dollars that Oaklawn has been putting into its facilities. Now we are seeing those investments come downtown with investments like the Hotel Hot Springs, and with the redoing of the Arlington's exterior. There are millions of dollars now being invested in downtown Hot Springs!" Nelson went on to share that traffic from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, which may surpass the size of Chicago's metropolitan area to become the third largest population center in the U.S. by 2030, is expected to bring tourists by the thousands to the Spa City.

The Hotel Hot Springs is located at 305 Malvern Avenue in Hot Springs. For more information about the hotel, call (877) 623-6697 or visit

Kat Robinson is an Arkansas author and food historian, covering all of The Natural State's highways, byways and pieways. Her 12th book, The Great Arkansas Pie Book, is now available nationwide.


  1. My mom and dad had their first date at Coy's in June of 1953, and every year thereafter celebrated their wedding anniversary at Coy's, which happens to be October 2nd. They are both gone now, but through the years, many happy memories were made at Coy's Steak House. It is very exciting for my family to hear that the Fine Dining facility we grew up enjoying is being resurrected!

  2. I proposed to my Lynn Woodall at Coy’s 27 years ago with about 25 friends!

  3. My parents met at 15.. she was a butter girl and he was a prep cook at Coys steakhouse.. my grandmother JJ was a waitress also.. I spent many nights in this restaurant up until I was 8 yrs old and I was loved and adored by all of the amazing women that made this place a piece of history. So excited for the return!

  4. I had the pleasure of working with Chef Derek Nowell in Panama City Beach Florida. Very professional and knowledgeable. He's going to be a great addition to your team. I know the food will be excellent and top tier.


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