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As I sat by myself during a recent visit to Rosie’s Pot & Kettle Cafe, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the restaurant located on the outskirts of downtown Little Rock. By 11:15 a.m. on this Wednesday morning, the place was filled with regulars, a mix of white and blue-collar workers, most of them already eating the day’s special. Today, that happened to be a hearty portion of meatloaf, complete with two sides and a yeast roll. My meatloaf was only minutes away, three to be exact, and proved to scratch that comfort food itch. Diners throughout the restaurant seemed to agree, for as full as Rosie’s was, things were oddly quiet. Silence can be deafening when great eats are around.
Two years in, things seem to be going well for the restaurant co-owned by Alisha Black, Katie McDaniel, and Liz Maxey, three longtime friends and servers who banded together to open Rosie’s Pot & Kettle Café.
“We all met waiting tables. Katie bartended for years and went on to manage a downtown restaurant. Alisha has been the athletic director at Holy Souls and a swim coach for Little Rock Dolphins and did some serving on the side. Liz started out in Conway serving and bartending during college. We all crossed paths serving at a well-known diner in the industrial area of Little Rock,” says Alisha Black.
The ladies’ drive and passion to not only open Rosie’s but to ensure success by maintaining a strong presence has helped build a loyal clientele in a relatively short period of time.
“Regulars are our lifeblood. The 10 years spent waiting tables in this area, we were all able to form relationships that are more like family now. These people are the only reason we ever wanted to open our spot. Our goal is for everyone to feel comfortable, like they are going home for breakfast or lunch,” says Black.
I’d say they’re doing an excellent job. For lunch, each day features 2-3 Specials to go along with an offering of salads, sandwiches, and burgers. Pot roast (Thursday), fried chicken (Thursday), and the aforementioned meatloaf (Wednesday) are the most popular specials. I imagine diners are also enthusiastic about Fridays when fried catfish, foot-long chili dogs, and chicken pot pies are on the menu.
The club sandwich, a litmus test for any restaurant like Rosie’s, delighted with its meticulous construction, toasted bread and ample portion of bacon. The cheeseburger is just as straightforward and satisfying, as are the perfectly fried Tater Tots. Sides of warm cabbage and purple hull peas are winners, as is the skin-on red mashed potatoes with cream gravy. Try to resist ordering a second yeast roll after you gobble up the first one in 45 seconds. Why? Because room must be saved for dessert.
Yes, the coconut cream pie has a loyal following, but if Coke cake is available, order it. Rosie’s does this Southern sheet cake just right. Moist and chocolaty with a thick layer of icing on top, a piece of the cake ensures a lethargic next few hours.
Other regular desserts include strawberry, lemon, chocolate, and blueberry buttermilk pie.
In the mornings, expect omelets, breakfast sandwiches, sausage and gravy, and hot cakes to start your day off right. At his point, I can only speak to Rosie’s lunch service, but I have zero doubt that breakfast is just as impressive.
The only complaint I hear about Rosie’s? While folks want the restaurant to be open on weekends, I wouldn’t hold my breath for that to happen anytime soon.
Says Black, “Opening on the weekends has been a topic of discussion, but we do catering and have families, so for the moment we are sticking with Monday through Friday.”
I think we’ll survive. Barely.
Did You Know?
Rosie’s Tailgate Box, which includes 4 items (from a selection of chicken salad, ham and cheese sandwiches, sausage balls, pigs in a blanket, brownies, chocolate chip cookies and more), is available for pre-order. The Lil’ Box is $39.95 (+ tax) and feeds 4-6, and the Big Box is $59.95 (+ tax) and feeds 8-10. Call 501-747-1456 to place orders. Call by Thursday for a Friday pickup.
Rosie’s Pot & Kettle Cafe
423 Bond Ave. (Little Rock)
Phone: (501) 747-1456
Hours: Monday-Friday 6 a.m.-2 p.m.; Closed Saturday & Sunday
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