Dining options for Lonoke residents have grown in recent months thanks to the addition of two new, locally-owned restaurants.
The Cajun Noodle opened Sept. 14 in the old clubhouse at Mallard Point Golf Course. Owner Michael Coats said the restaurant’s main offering is authentic Cajun fare such as red beans and rice, alligator and gumbo.
Coats said he developed an appreciation for Cajun food while spending a great deal of time in Baton Rouge, La., over the course of a six-year period. The result is a menu boasting some of the most "authentic Cajun cuisine you’ll find anywhere in the state of Arkansas," he says.
The restaurant also offers a full Italian menu with made-to-order sauces. In addition, Coats said, the Cajun Noodle is one of the only establishments in Lonoke that’s allowed to serve alcohol.
Entertainment is also a big part of what the Cajun Noodle does, with Karaoke every Saturday night beginning at 9 p.m. and live bands from time to time on Friday nights.
The Cajun Noodle serves lunch Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. and dinner from 5-9 p.m. It is open all day Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to midnight.
The restaurant is family-friendly, Coats said, and kids eat free Tuesday and Wednesday nights with a paying adult. There is also another special in which two can dine for $25 on Thursday nights, he said.
Coats said about 75 percent of his diners are repeat customers and business is growing by roughly 25 percent each week. He credits this, in part, to the effort he puts forth in making each person feel welcome and at home.
"I think dining has become so impersonal," he said. "You go in and you eat and you leave. I wanted to bring personality to the restaurant."
He hopes that with everything the Cajun Noodle has to offer, Lonoke residents won’t feel the need to stray far for their dining and entertainment needs.
"Save that drive to Little Rock," he said. "We have everything in this building. We’ve got it right here in their backyard."
Spud Shop & Sandwich Emporium
The Spud Shop & Sandwich Emporium, located at 155 Frontage Road, has also opened in the old Perry’s Restaurant building.
Owner Jay Perry says one of his main goals in opening the restaurant is to bring healthier food options to the residents of Lonoke.
He describes the restaurant as a fast-casual establishment offering signature sandwiches and potatoes, as well as a variety of soups and salads. The soup comes in a bread bowl, and they also offer homemade chili, he said.
Prices are reasonable, he said, and drinks and sides are included with the purchase of a meal. Perry said that the Spud Shop & Sandwich Emporium’s prices are cheaper than many competitors, and that the food is fresher and, in many cases, healthier.
"Don’t cheat yourself," he said. They also slice all their own meats and cheeses, he added, instead of ordering pre-packaged.
Available side items include french fries, slaw, potato salad and baked beans. Among the signature sandwiches is the Lonoke Delight, which consists of roast beef and turkey on a white hoagie bun with Provolone cheese.
Perry is a Lonoke native who said he had plans to open a restaurant of this sort for quite some time. When plans to open a Newk’s Express Cafe franchise fell through, he said he took what he knew from past job experiences and put it to use, opening the Spud Shop & Sandwich Emporium in a space his family has owned for many years.
The restaurant is open Monday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., according to its Facebook page. The phone number is 676-SPUD (7783).