Hillcrest's Afterthought Nightclub, Vieux Carre Gets New Owner

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Jun. 3, 2013 12:00 am  

Vieux Carre on Kavanaugh Boulevard in Little Rock.

If any bar in Little Rock deserved the over-used term “iconic,” it would be the Afterthought in Hillcrest (surely deserving an entry in the invaluable “The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture,” hint, hint).

The bar, which has been around since approximately forever (if you know when it opened, please share), and the adjoining restaurant, the popular Vieux Carre, came under new ownership as of April 1. Joe Gillespie, a Little Rock businessman, bought both from the Bennett family, who opened Vieux Carre in 2006. Several members of the family worked there, including Executive Chef and Manager David Bennett.

Dark, cozy and often jazz-filled, the Afterthought also hosts meetings like Science Café.

Gillespie, who also owns Revolution Fitness & Health in the Heights and Client Q Solutions, a technology consulting firm, declined to say how much he paid for the restaurant and bar.

He has few, if any, changes in mind for the Afterthought, which he agrees “has been around forever. We’re really not doing much there, just trying to tweak and improve upon what’s already there.”

A couple of weeks after Gillespie took over Vieux Carre, however, he did implement a completely new menu. “We’re still tweaking that,” he says. Gillespie calls the food “New Orleans-inspired,” along with “Southern, French, Cajun-Creole, a little bit of everything that comes out of New Orleans.”

The executive chef is now Greg Wallis, formerly with YaYa’s Euro Bistro in the Heights, Gillespie said.

Gillespie said he has no experience in the restaurant business, but “I was familiar with the Afterthought and the restaurant and the location, and we just thought it was a good location, great history, great building, obviously great neighborhood and thought it was a good purchase.”

Vieux Carre’s lunch hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, and dinner 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The Afterthought opens at 4:30 p.m. and kind of closes when it closes, but usually by midnight during the week, a little later on weekends.



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