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Already under attack

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The state’s new minimum wage law, in effect only since Oct. 1, is already under attack. The Arkansas Hospitality Association, working in behalf of large restaurants, is lining up legislative support to amend the part of the law that applies to employees covered by tips. The effort is gaining support already, says Association head Montine McNulty.

Under the old law, large restaurants (those grossing more than $500,000) had to pay $2.13 an hour to people who also received tips. Smaller restaurants had to pay $2.58. The new law requires all restaurants to pay 42 percent of the $6.15 minimum hourly wage, or $2.63 an hour, a 50-cent jump for major restaurants.

McNulty said her group is working to roll back the minimum for large restaurants to $2.13 an hour. She said it’s justified because servers in major restaurants earn well more than the minimum with tips. The group that worked for the carefully crafted legislative deal won’t be happy.

Wedding bell clues

Little Rock District Judge Vic and Susan Fleming’s daughter Elizabeth married Emmitt Weindruch in Little Rock last weekend and everybody knew the celebration would be a bit of a puzzler.

Judge Fleming, a crossword puzzle builder in his spare time, wrote five puzzles with clues related to the wedding. They were included in a new Simon and Schuster puzzle anthology that was given to members of the bridal party.

Judge Fleming worked the first names of bridal party members into the puzzles. For example: “Type of morning” was the clue for the first name of Elizabeth Fleming’s old school chum and bridesmaid, Chelsea Clinton.

Former President Bill Clinton flew in from South Dakota and U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton flew in from Washington for the First Presbyterian Church wedding and reception at the Arkansas Arts Center.

Mark your calendar

Capital Hotel management has been tight-lipped about the extensive renovation at the historic hotel, one of the downtown properties controlled by financier Warren Stephens. But we have learned that the hotel, closed since late 2005, will re-open by June 1. Some guest rooms will be lost to make room for additional meeting space. Ashley’s Restaurant will have an expanded and improved kitchen.

Majestic spa?

A deal is cooking for another historic hotel, the Majestic in Hot Springs. Previous plans to demolish a portion and renovate the rest as a “boutique” hotel apparently have been scrapped. Instead, a sale is in the works to a development group that would demolish a portion, including the 1950s-era Lanai addition, and turn the rest into condos and commercial uses. We hear an Asia-style spa could be part of the plans.

Done deal

We’ve mentioned it here before, so be advised that Sharon Priest of the Downtown Partnership has lined up sufficient Little Rock Board support to sell the Metrocentre Improvement District Commission’s south parking deck to a Hot Springs developer who wants to convert the nearby Donaghey Building into condos and needs parking. The price: $2,050,000. The city will give up any return of the $500,000 it had in the deck. But the city wants to work some protection into the deal should the development deal fall through.

T-shirt winner

Last week’s cover story was onHog fan grumbling about football coach Houston Nutt. Wouldn’t you know it? His Hogs promptly upset favored Auburn.

For that reason, we’ve decided to award the Nutt-in-the-bullseye T-shirt featured on the cover to a reader who wrote a nice letter about the coach in our impromptu contest, Michelle Mudford. She wrote:

“I would LOVE to have that T-shirt. I love the Hogs and even though they haven’t been having a good year(s) I stand by them and always will. Houston Nutt is a great coach and eventually the Hogs will get back on their feet and until then I will still be cheering them on. Woo, pig, SOOOIIIEEE!”

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