Donnie Ferneau's Cathead's Diner Coming Soon

Donnie Ferneau's Cathead's Diner Coming Soon
Construction continues at the future location of Cathead's Diner in the East Village development on Shall Avenue. (Tre Baker)

Donnie Ferneau chuckled when Whispers called him Thursday to ask when his long-awaited Cathead’s Diner might be open. The opening had previously been tentatively set for May 1 and here it was, May 3.

Was that a sad chuckle or a happy chuckle? “It’s a funny chuckle,” he said.

Everything’s behind, Ferneau said, a condition not unknown to anyone trying to open a business or renovate a building. “I’ve been on the horn all morning about it. I’ve been discussing it for the past two hours.”

But, he promises, Cathead’s will open this month.

The restaurant, at 515 Shall Ave., a couple of blocks east of Lost Forty Brewing in Little Rock’s East Village neighborhood, will feature “scratch-made, Southern comfort food,” Ferneau says. “We really are paying homage to classic, Southern and Delta comfort food.”

Such as? “Homemade doughnuts and biscuits and scratch-made pies and barbecue and fried chicken and meat and three sides.”

His partners in the venture are Kelli Marks, the chef known for her Sweet Love catering business, and Little Rock investor and developer Rodney Thomason. Thomason, owner of Medical Assets Holding Co., a holding company for health care, hospitality and real estate businesses, provides the deep pockets.

Cathead’s Diner will seat about 94 inside and 36 outside.

“We really want it done right before we release it to the public,” Ferneau said. “We know we’re very anticipated. We want to give Arkansas something they’ve been asking for for several years. And we just want to make sure it’s really done right so people get the best experience right out of the gate.”

In Other Tentative News …
Restaurateur Ira Mittelman said he’s tentatively set June 4 as the opening date for Ira’s, in the newly renovated Rose Building at 307 Main St. in downtown Little Rock.

“Now, don’t write that in stone,” he warned. “That’s our target date. With a building from 1900, you never know what’s going to come up.”