Little Rock's Level Nightclub Tries to Stay Straight With Neighbors

Developer Jimmy Moses is keeping a close eye on a new Little Rock club, Level, which replaced Montego Café at 315 Main St.

Moses, whose $22 million redevelopment project just across the street is anchored by the restaurant Bruno’s Little Italy, had formally objected to Level’s liquor license but withdrew his objection after talking to Brad McCray, co-owner of Level and former owner of a downtown nightclub called On the Rocks.

“I guess I’m kind of on the fence, to be perfectly honest,” Moses tells us. “I’ve talked to the owner of the club, and I’m concerned — and I told him this — that we don’t have another On the Rocks kind of club on Main Street, because On the Rocks is not what we’re trying to develop in the neighborhood.

“We’re not opposed to bars or restaurants or even necessarily a late-night venue. We just want to make sure they’re full of good folks who behave themselves and follow the rules,” Moses said.

“I think it was just a misunderstanding about what kind of venue we were going to be,” McCray said of Moses’ concerns. “We just basically reassured him that we are an upscale location. We talked about the crowds and the clientele we’re targeting. We’re going for the young professional for the most part. We put a considerable investment into the location here.”

McCray said that he and his partner, Steven Velek, had invested more than $100,000 in furniture and fixtures alone for Level. McCray previously owned On the Rocks, a nightclub in the Block 2 building at 107 E. Markham St. that transitioned to a restaurant before closing in 2010. And he was behind Montego Café, which closed in September after McCray experienced “creative differences” with his “entertainment and promotion associate.”

Moses said he feared that Level would attract a rowdy crowd, which apparently was a problem with On the Rocks.

“He pleads that he was young and didn’t know better and he’s learned,” Moses said of McCray. “I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Moses said that after their talk, “we’re cautiously optimistic that this will be exactly what Brad says, which is a well-run quality establishment that everybody can enjoy and it adds to the neighborhood. And that’s what I’m going to hope for and if it’s not, we’ll be the first ones to object again.”

On the Level

McCray and Velek recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Bear’s Den Pizza, their restaurant in Conway, and McCray is excited about Level, which opened on Oct. 31.

“We’ve kind of modeled our décor and our format off of clubs that we’ve experienced in Las Vegas,” he said. “We’re offering a high-end ultra lounge and dance experience that can’t be found anywhere else in central Arkansas.”

Level will offer food to go along with the DJ-enhanced recorded music and drinks. “We’ve got a simple yet good menu,” McCray said. “We have a few entrée-style items. We do a smoked rib entrée and we have slider burgers.”

McCray said the club is charging a cover fee of from $5 to $10.