The restaurateurs behind Local Lime have purchased Browning’s and will replace it with a Tex-Mex restaurant, Heights Taco & Tamale Company. The group takes ownership of the space, 5805 Kavanaugh Blvd., on July 1, after which co-owner Scott McGehee said he expects a three-month-long renovation, which would put opening around early October.
As Yellow Rocket Concepts, McGehee, John Beachboard and Russ McDonough own Big Orange, Local Lime, ZAZA and Lost 40, a production brewery that’s in the works. Ben Brainard is a partner in Local Lime. He’ll also be an owner in HT&T.
McGehee said the prospect of opening a Tex-Mex restaurant was “incredibly sentimental and nostalgic.” He said he was raised eating at Browning’s and actually raised in Juanita’s and Blue Mesa, two restaurants his late father Frank McGehee co-owned.
McGehee said he wasn’t ready to delve too deeply into menu specifics, but mentioned burritos, churros, nachos and tamales. Where Local Lime focuses on authentic Mexican food and is more geared to adults, he said HT&T would be more in the vein of a Tex-Mex restaurant you’d find in San Antonio or Austin, “where you go with 40 people to watch the Razorback game” or take the family.
Yellow Rocket Concepts recently purchased the recipes from the long-gone Taco Kid restaurant in Little Rock, and with the purchase of Browning’s now owns that restaurant’s secrets. McGehee speaks wistfully about Browning’s hot sauce and says he can’t wait to get his hands on it.
There are certainly a lot of folks in Central Arkansas with similar nostalgia for old-school Little Rock Tex-Mex. By all accounts, Local Lime’s Taco Kid throwback nights have been a hit. But what about those who think the original Browning’s and its ilk were terrible?
“The way I feel about it is, there were some great things at the original Browning’s. It is a lot about that nostalgia. I think we’ll draw on that. I think people that loved Browning’s are going to love us more. I think people that’ve been to San Antonio and Austin are going to be impressed as well.”
Whatever homage he pays to his father or to Browning’s, all recipes will be unique creations, McGehee said.
“As crazy as it sounds with all the Mexican restaurants we have, I think we can bring something to Little Rock that doesn’t really exist.”