Hardings' Cache Restaurant a Clarion Call for Good Times in River Market

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 12:00 am  

The weekend snow and ice have done their best to thwart the first party hosted at Cache, the new restaurant in the Arcade Building in Little Rock’s River Market District.

But co-owners Rush Harding and his son Payne are determined to be ready, so a score of workers swirl throughout the space, drying glasses at the bar, chopping carrots in the kitchen, adding finishing touches and holiday bling, filling clear glass bowls and cylinders with gold and silver ornaments.

Rush Harding, CEO of the Little Rock investment firm Crews & Associates, talks fast and thinks fast and expects others to keep up. Mostly, they do.

The name of the restaurant, pronounced like folding money, seeks to convey a couple of concepts, Harding says. “I wanted something that reflected our family and our roots as a family, but then something that also had a meaning of good times and fun and enjoying being with family and friends.”

“I grew up in the Delta of east Arkansas, and the Cache River is an iconic river in the Delta,” says Harding, the 59-year-old son of educators. Clarendon, where he was raised, lies near where the Cache empties into the White River.

So “Cache” nods toward family origins, but the word, Harding says, also means “a treasure trove. It’s where you store important things. And some of the things that are most important to me and my family are good times and good food and good experiences, good camaraderie with friends.”

And anyway, Harding says, he’s not even the person who named the restaurant.

“I was actually in a meeting with Jimmy Moses, Skip Rutherford and Rett Tucker, Bobby Roberts,” Harding said, listing the godfathers (not in the organized-crime sense) of downtown Little Rock development.

And the godfathers are asking Harding, “’What are you going to name the restaurant?’ And we bounced several names off and I was giving them my thoughts. And Skip Rutherford” — and here Harding does a Skip Rutherford impression, which is the same Harding drawl but with a whiskey-tinged rasp to it, like Rush with a sore throat — ‘I like Cache. Name it Cache.’ So Skip Rutherford named the restaurant, not me.”

But the enthusiasm is all Harding’s, as he gestures toward the kitchen or the chef’s private dining room or the glass walls on the second floor that in good weather can vanish, opening the restaurant to river views.

It’s an expensive space, whose finish-out cost “quite a bit more” than the $2 million that the shell cost, Harding says. The building permit for the finish-out work topped $3.1 million.

Cache is elegant, with flat surfaces of glass and wood and stainless steel in taupe and gray and chocolate brown. Chairs upholstered in a burgundy-rust fabric add color to the sleek space.



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