The Division of Arkansas Heritage announced the winners of the 7th annual Arkansas Food Hall of Fame in a ceremony held at Ron Robinson Theater on Monday night. The ceremony was hosted by Rex Nelson, food author and a senior editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Mike Mills, secretary of Arkansas Parks, Heritage and Tourism, spoke briefly at the beginning of the ceremony and handed out all of the awards. Mills started his tenure with the Parks, Heritage and Tourism department in January after being appointed by Gov. Sarah Sanders. Mills replaced former secretary Stacy Hurst.
Nelson said there were 1,828 total nominations in 2023 from all 75 counties in the state.
Half of the nominations were in the People’s Choice category, Nelson said, with 966 total nominations. To be eligible for People’s Choice, restaurants have to be at least a year old and not part of a chain.
Juried awards were narrowed down by the Food Hall of Fame committee to a list of finalists in each category, Nelson said. Members of the committee are: Paul S. Austin, Jimmy Bryant, Chip Culpepper, Quantia “Key” Fletcher, Cindy Grisham, Montine McNulty, Rex Nelson, Tim Nutt, Kat Robinson, Stephanie Wade, David Ware, Stanley Young and Mike Mills.
Those finalist were then turned over to a blue ribbon panel of judges to make the final selection of a winner, Nelson said.
Nelson told the legendary Arkansas story that involves 4-Dice Restaurant (Dallas County), one of the finalists in the Gone But Not Forgotten Category. Nelson said that in 1975 the restaurant made national news when Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood from The Rolling Stones were traveling through Arkansas “perhaps traveling stoned,” Nelson said, on their way to a show in Dallas in a rented yellow Chevrolet Impala. They stopped at 4-Dice Restaurant to eat and were pulled over and detained by local police leaving Fordyce.
“In Keith Richards autobiography “Life” the 4-Dice Restaurant is mentioned in the very first sentence, and the first chapter is devoted to that day that two Stones were stopped in the pine woods of south Arkansas as they tried to roll through our beloved state,” Nelson said. Gerard Matthews wrote a 2011 cover story for Arkansas Times about the incident after Richard’s book came out.
Gone But Not Forgotten
Winner: Bohemia Restaurant (Garland County)
4-Dice Restaurant (Dallas County)
Chip’s Barbeque (Pulaski County)
Sir Loin’s Inn (Pulaski County)
Winner: Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Cook-Off (Columbia County)
Slovak Oyster Supper (Prairie County)
Mayhaw Festival (Union County)
Food of the Year
Proprietor of the Year
Winner: Jamie McAfee, Pine Bluff Country Club (Jefferson County)
Chuck Taylor, Taylor’s Steakhouse of Dumas (Desha County)
Chester and Laura Huntsman, Beech Street Bistro of Crossett (Ashley County)
David Stobaugh, Stoby’s Restaurant of Conway (Faulkner County)
James Woods, Woods Place of Camden (Ouachita County)
Jim Keet, JTJ Restaurants of Little Rock (Pulaski County)
Arkansas Food Hall of Fame
The Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism inducted three restaurants into the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame out of 12 finalists, Nelson said. To be eligible, restaurants have to be owned and operated in Arkansas, they can’t be part of a chain and have to have been in business for a minimum of 25 years. There were a record 504 nominations, Nelson said.
Bulldog Restaurant of Bald Knob (White County)
Kream Kastle of Blytheville (Mississippi County)
Ozark Cafe of Jasper (Newton County)
Betty’s Old Fashion of El Dorado (Union County)
Big Banjo Pizza of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)
Black Angus of Little Rock (Pulaski County)
Daisy Queen of Marshall (Searcy County)
DeVito’s Restaurant of Harrison (Boone County)
Hugo’s of Fayetteville (Washington County)
Meacham’s Family Restaurant of Ash Flat (Sharp County)
Skyline Cafe of Mena (Polk County)
The Ohio Club of Hot Springs (Garland County)