The Whispers Blog

Arkansas' breaking business news blog, with news and commentary from the Arkansas Business staff.
Send us tips.

The Capital Hotel Opens One Eleven at the Capital

A look inside the main dining room of the Capital Hotel's new restaurant, One Eleven at the Capital.

Little Rock Soirée was one of a few media outlets to get a sneak peek at The Capital Hotel's new restaurant, One Eleven at the Capital, Thursday night. 

The restaurant, which is taking the place of Ashley's, will be open Friday and Saturday for dinner service. Its weekday lunch service will begin Wednesday. One Eleven will also serve breakfast on Saturdays, and breakfast and brunch on Sundays, both beginning next weekend.

Ashley's closed in May for extensive renovations. Last night, media members got the first glimpse of the new dining room that included hardwood floors and open windows, instead of carpet and heavy drapes.

Here's part of Soirée's review:

While staff wouldn’t say how much the renovation cost, it’s apparent very few expenses were spared. One Eleven contracted with Little Rock agency Thoma Thoma to handle the new logo and branding. The dining room has been augmented with a new 16-seat zinc bar that stretches through the space where the former host stand once stood. A new WineEmotion dispenser system, worth well over $10,000, allows bar staff to preserve the most premium wines for weeks after opening, meaning several of One Eleven’s most expensive bottles are now also available by the glass.

The kitchen also received a makeover, which will allow chef Joël Antunes to serve more patrons, more efficiently.

As far as the food, most dishes are staying the same, but there have been updates. Soirée was able to preview a few dishes last night, including Maine Oysters Rockefeller, Crab Cake with Coleslaw, Organic Belle Evans Farm Chicken and Raspberry Cheesecake. One Eleven will also have some doughnuts that could quickly become popular.

For more on the Capital Hotel's new restaurant, including a slew of photos, check out Soirée's full report here.

Reports: APEX Tool to Close Springdale Plant That Employs 250

It's a rare thing that you see a pair of big job loss announcements in northwest Arkansas so close together. Last week, Superior Industries International of Van Nuys, California, announced it was going to close its plant in Rogers leaving 500 people out of work. And late yesterday, word of another 250 jobs lost in Springdale.

According to The City Wire:

APEX Tool, formerly Danaher Tool, employs roughly 250 workers whose jobs will be moving to South Carolina in 2015.

"APEX Tool Group has made the difficult decision to close our manufacturing facilities in Dallas, Texas and Springdale, Ark., by the end of 2015, and to consolidate production of our Made in the USA brands to an existing facility we own in Sumter, S.C.," the APEX Tool Group noted in a statement. "We plan to add 150 to 200 jobs in Sumter to handle this additional capacity, and our associates in Dallas and Springdale whose jobs are impacted will have the first opportunity to apply for these positions. ..."

The job cuts begin next year. 

According to a report last week by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metropolitan area had the lowest unemployment rate of Arkansas metropolitan areas in June at 4.9 percent.

Reports: Wal-Mart Nabs Another Shopping App, Luvocracy

Luvocracy's website today. The firm is being purchased by @WalmartLabs.

@WalmartLabs, part of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s social media division, has acquired another shopping app, Luvocracy.

Re/Code reports that the 16 of the 20-person staff will join @WalmartLabs, which is shutting down the service:

Luvocracy was one of a host of startups attempting to make online shopping a more social experience. Prospective shoppers visited the app to browse through images of products uploaded by other individuals. Luvocracy’s team scoured the web to find the best available price for each product, which shoppers could then order directly through the Luvocracy app.

Wal-Mart hasn't disclosed terms of the deal. Founded in 2011, Luvocracy has since been surpassed by Pinterest, another social shopping platform. Still, Luvocracy managed to raise about $11 million in investment from entities including Kleiner Perkins, Google Ventures and Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, according to TechCrunch.

In February, Wal-Mart said it had acquired Yumprint of Seattle, planning to use the company's recipe technology for its grocery delivery efforts on Walmart.com and Walmart To Go.

FCC Approves Sinclair's $1B Deal to Buy Allbritton TV Stations, Including KATV

Reuters and others are reporting that Sinclair Broadcast Group's $985 million deal to buy TV stations owned by Allbritton Communication has been approved by the FCC:

The FCC's Media Bureau said Sinclair will divest the TV station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and will give up licenses of Allbritton stations in Birmingham, Alabama and Charleston, South Carolina, delivering programming there through so-called multi-casting on the signal of the stations Sinclair already owns.

The two companies announced the deal nearly one year ago, on July 29, 2013. It includes Little Rock ABC affiliate KATV-TV, Channel 7, Allbritton's flagship station WJLA-TV in Washington D.C., and NewsChannel 8, a 24-hour news channel that's also in the nation's capital.

Allbritton announced in May 2013 its intention to sell those stations, saying it wanted to focus on its digital properties, including Politico.

To that end, Robert Allbritton spoke to Politico today about the sale of the stations:

"Hey it’s great to do a deal, but it’s kind of tough to walk away. I’ve been doing this 20 years personally, and you don’t walk away from that without some thoughts," Robert Allbritton said in an interview. "It’s going to be a good business for a while to come, but man, I’m 45 and I don’t know if it’s going to be a good business for the rest of my life."

Allbritton said Internet-based communications are the way things are headed.

"What you guys at Politico are doing is the future," he said. "It’s just the way media is changing now, and man, is it changing fast."

The Allbritton stations fill out Sinclair's growing portfolio. The deal will put the Hunt Valley, Maryland, media firm in control of 162 stations in 78 markets, meaning that Sinclair now reaches about 40 percent of U.S. TV households.

Southern Gourmasian to Open Restaurant in Downtown Little Rock

Southern Gourmasian will be among the vendors at Food Truck Friday in downtown Little Rock. 

Our sister publication, Little Rock Soirée, has the latest about Southern Gourmasian's plans to open a brick-and-mortar location in downtown Little Rock.

The popular Little Rock food truck will be opening up a restaurant at 219 W. Capitol Ave. in the Sterling Annex. 

According to Soirée's report, the restaurant will be about 3,000-SF and seat about 85 guests. Justin Patterson, owner of Southern Gourmasian, says the restaurant plans to serve alcohol, including local beers on tap.

No official open date has been set, but it's planned to open some time later this year. For more, check out the full report at Soirée.

The food truck reported $108,542 in sales during 2013, and $17,515 through the first two months of this year.

Search

Latest Arkansas Business Poll

Did the Fed make the right call on interest rates?