by Max Brantley
Here's what I call news. Browning's Restaurant, up there with Franke's as the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Little Rock, has been sold. I hear the owners of Pizza Cafe are in the takeover group.
Saltillo plate, anyone? Home-made pralines? Waitresses that call you hon' and fill an old-fashioned tumbler with ice before dumping it out to fill with a long-neck of Bud?
A matter of blog privilege: I'm a resident of LR today because I made a good friend while I was in college at Washington and Lee. She went to Mary Baldwin in Staunton, Va. I gave her a ride home or back to school a time or two when I was going back and forth to Louisiana. I met her parents and spent pleasant nights at their home. I was treated like royalty, as were my slightly disreputable friends. The hospitality continued after I came to town, at Thanksgiving and any other day when I seemed likely to be marooned from family as a beginner reporter. During my early college-era trips, I read the Arkansas Gazette and it seemed like a newspaper at which I might fit in. After newspapers in a couple of other states decided I didn't fit in, the job offer from Little Rock looked better than ever. And so here I am.
But back to the point of the story. My friend from Mary Baldwin said that when I visited her in LR, I had to go with her to her favorite restaurant. It was, of course, Browning's. There was a time, I think, in LR in the 1960s, when cheese dip and punch at Browning's was as exotic as you could imagine. It was nothing less than a fabric of weekly life for a lot of people, particularly those in the Hall High orbit. I had a great meal there with my friend in 1970 or so. It was one of many things that made Little Rock a warm and welcoming place to me 35 years ago. May it live long. I never regretted the decision to come here and I hope Browning's sees me through to the end of my days.