Tommy Keet, a member of the restaurant-owning Keet family of central Arkansas, gave Whispers an update on the restaurants at Breckenridge Village in Little Rock, damaged by the March 31 tornado.
KBK-Breck LLC, a group led by the Keets, partnered with Hank Kelley, CEO of Kelley Commercial Partners of Little Rock, to buy the retail center at 10301 N. Rodney Parham Road last year. The partners envisioned the redevelopment of the venerable shopping center as “restaurant-centric and entertainment-centric,” in the words of Kelley.
The tornado has delayed but not derailed that redevelopment.
► Neverwhere Coffee, Comics & Oddities, a coffee and comic book shop, has opened in Breckenridge since the tornado, and Keet called it “a really nice addition to the whole project.”
► Eat My Catfish, whose original Little Rock location opened at the center in July 2016, was devastated by the twister, Keet said. “The tornado actually went inside their building and destroyed our offices, which are below it as well,” he said. Travis Hester, the founder of the Benton-based Eat My Catfish chain, told us: “Right now, we anticipate reopening before the end of the year, and we look forward to sharing that specific date as we know more. We look forward to serving our loyal customers again soon at our original Little Rock location.”
► Mt. Fuji, which is under new ownership, is open but is preparing for a move to a new site in the center, Keet said. He hopes to get a certificate of occupancy by Oct. 1. “Once we get that certificate of occupancy, we will shut down the existing space and move some equipment and move some things for a month while we train the staff and get final certification.
It’s a larger space. It’s a beautiful space with a great-size bar, a fully reimagined sushi bar.” He hopes that the newly reimagined Mt. Fuji will be open by Nov. 1. Brothers Aaron Shota Jackson and Yusuke Jackson bought Mt. Fuji last year.
► Waldo’s Chicken & Beer, operated by the Keet family’s JTJ Restaurants, should be open in January or February, Keet said. “That’s very weather-dependent, I would say. When you’re trying to do construction from November to January, it’s always kind of a crapshoot.”
► The Root, the Little Rock restaurant working to open its second location in the city at Breckenridge, is looking to be serving customers in the first quarter of next year, Keet said. “They don’t have an exact date,” he said, but the plans are with the city of Little Rock.
► DeLuca’s Pizzeria, the Hot Springs pizza restaurant that chose Breckenridge for its second location, is envisioning a March or April opening, Keet said. “The tornado definitely hurt us in that planning a little bit.”
► Flyway Taproom, a project of Flyway Brewing of North Little Rock, may be open in May. “It’s a little bit bigger project,” Keet said.
“Twelve months from now it [Breckenridge Village] is going to be a completely face-lifted, gorgeous project that we’re all going to be very proud of,” he said. “No one expected a tornado. I guess you never do.”
Keet added that Kelley, whose Kelley Commercial Partners manages the center, “and his whole team have been phenomenal to deal with during this strange and different time. They’ve really just been true partners.”
As for a tenant for the building that once housed the 44,000-SF Regal UA Breckenridge Theater, which closed in January after its parent company, Cineworld Group, entered bankruptcy, Keet said, “We’re still working on the perfect tenant for the theater. We’ve had a lot of bites. And we’ve gotten real close with some people. And we’re close on determining what the best use is, whether that’s a theater or some other purpose, but I don’t really have an update there.
“This is a long-term real estate hold for all of us,” he said. “We’re taking our time making sure that we get the right tenant.”