by Robert Bell
There has been a bit of shuffling lately in the River Market’s Ottenheimer Hall. Fat Sam’s Louisiana Café — purveyors of some reliably tasty New Orleans-style eats — unfortunately was forced to close because of a family illness. Shugg’s BBQ Kitchen recently took over the former Fat Sam’s spot. Andina’s Café recently moved out of the west end of the hall and into a spot in the Tuff Nutt Building on East Third Street.
Jim Rice, COO of the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, which handles leasing in the River Market, said the large spot formerly occupied by Shugg’s will most likely be split into two parcels. So far, there have been several proposals submitted, including a Mexican concept, a gourmet to-go operation, an ice cream concept and a few others that the LRCVB staff hasn’t had time to fully examine yet, Rice said.
An advisory committee makes the final selection about which applicants are awarded leases. All parcels lease for $3 per square foot.
He didn’t disclose any specific applicants, but said he would probably be able to discuss more details later next week. When considering applicants, the committee takes into account "diversity of offerings."
"We don’t want three of the same things," he said.
Other factors include "the quality, the reputation — but startups are also absolutely considered — experience of the operator and what we feel would best fit around what is offered currently."
The former Andina’s parcel will not be leased for a restaurant, Rice said. The open-air nature of the space makes it difficult to effectively heat and cool, he said.