If you were in SQZBX Brewery and Pizza Joint in Hot Springs last Wednesday, you might have gotten to hear music by “Larry the flugelhorn player.” That is something you might expect at a restaurant started by Cheryl Roorda and Zachary Smith of the polka duo The Itinerant Locals, and judging by Facebook reviews, you can expect good pizza and homebrewed beer, too.

SQZBX (as in squeezebox, which Roorda plays) quietly opened Dec. 18 and has had a nice turnout, Roorda said. Smith learned the pizza trade in North Carolina and from a friend in Louisiana, and the couple makes all the bread they serve. The menu includes appetizers (including bread knots and an antipasto plate), salads, submarine sandwiches and New York-style pizzas (with myriad toppings, including capicola, kalamata olives and arugula).

On tap are American Pale Ale “Mile Marker No. 1,” Light Ale “Southern Lights” and Abbey Ale “Winter Market.” Roorda said the restaurant hopes to add a fourth brew this week.  There will be six eventually.

The restaurant, which is next door to KUHS-FM, 97.9, the low-power radio station Roorda and Smith helped found, is in a building the couple bought and rehabbed at 236 Ouachita Ave. Accordions line the walls, the ceiling is tin and the eatery seats 91 in booths and at tables. Plans are to landscape the backyard in summer for pizza al fresco. Quiet jazz bands will play on the raised stage; there’s a piano, too.

Besides their craft beer, the Roorda-Smiths serve a cider on tap and in the bottle. They will have gluten-free pizza soon, when the flour comes in. Diana Bratton of Taco Mama in Hot Springs is providing the dessert — cheesecake — at the moment.

SQZBX made the local news recently when 10 workers from the shuttered Dixie Cafe in Hot Springs found work at the pizza parlor. “How lucky for everyone,” Roorda said at the mention of the workers’ good fortune. “We have a crew of people ready to work and it’s great.”
Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.