Matt Bell to Open Oxford American's South on Main Restaurant

Matt Bell, sous-chef at the Capital Hotel in Little Rock, confirmed Monday that he will lead the Southern restaurant associated with The Oxford American magazine. 

The restaurant will be named South on Main and should open in February, construction progress permitting, Bell told Arkansas Business. 

Bell will own the restaurant, which will be located in the building that houses the OA's Little Rock offices at 1300 Main St., the former home of Juanita’s Cafe & Bar. The OA will serve as the restaurant's landlord, Bell said. 

"It really is essentially an extension of the magazine," Bell said. He said he plans to "try and explore the whole breadth of the South" through the restaurant's cuisine. 

Bell, 33, has been sous-chef for the Capital Hotel since January and worked for the hotel for four years. 

A native of Missoula, Mont., Bell earned a culinary arts degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, Texas, and interned at fine Italian restaurant Ristorante Capeo in North Little Rock. 

Since January, Bell has overseen lunch and dinner service for Ashley's at the Capital, the hotel's formal restaurant, as well as all the restaurant's menus except breakfast. 

He took on those responsibilities before the Capital Hotel's renowned executive chef, Lee Richardson, left in June.

That same month, The Oxford American received a $290,000 grant from ArtPlace, a national collaboration of foundations.

Warwick Sabin, the magazine's publisher, said the grant money will pay for conversion of one of the magazine's two buildings on South Main Street into a site for nightly cultural programs and the restaurant.

The Oxford American announced Roger Hodge as its new editor in September.