Count Porkula BBQ announced today that they are expanding to their second location, and first standalone restaurant, expected to open early next year.
The location will be in the spot previously occupied by Ozark Country Restaurant at 201 Keightly Drive, just off Cantrell Road. The new location is in partnership with the Keet family’s JTJ Restaurants, owners of Petit & Keet, Cypress Social, the Arkansas Taziki’s locations, and the upcoming Waldo’s Chicken and Beer location. The partnership will also bring in Michael Bodnar of Fresh Hospitality and Mark Waldo of Waldo’s chicken and Beer.
“We are overly excited about the new partnership with JTJ and Fresh Hospitality,” said Kelly Lovell, Co-Owner of Count Porkula. “When Tommy Keet (JTJ) called us in 2020 and stated he was bringing a gentleman from Fresh Hospitality (Michael Bodnar) to come try our food, we never imagined it would turn into a glowing partnership and opportunity to grow our Count Porkula Brand.”
Count Porkula began in 2008 by Kelly Lovell and Walt Todd as a competition BBQ team. After a few years of being a favorite among guests and judges (including myself) in the local BBQ competition circuits they opened a food truck followed by their first brick and mortar location in 2018 as a partnership with the Rail Yard in East Village.
The East Village location will continue to serve as Count Porkula’s cornerstone location while the new location will allow the group to explore new ideas and service models such as a stronger to-go offering. The new restaurant is expected to be 2,900 sq ft of indoor space while featuring outdoor seating, a full bar, along with dedicated curbside, to go, and online ordering options. The menu to start will include favorites such as their pulled pork nachos, prime brisket, and award-winning ribs.
“We are honored and excited to be partnering with Kelly and Walt to help expand their business and complete their dream to have a stand-alone BBQ joint,” said Tommy Keet, President of JTJ Restaurants, LLC. “Kelly and Walt have all the attributes we look for in partnerships – an unwavering commitment to quality and customer service, determination, character, a strong work ethic, and amazing food! ”
As you may remember, the former Ozark Country Restaurant location suffered a fire which caused the closure. As a result JTJ and Count Porkula are expecting the work on the new spot to last until early next year before they are able to open.
“The entire Team at JTJ has been great to work with and their experience in the food industry has opened our eyes to new processes and procedures in our current spot at The Railyard and our new Keightly location. The new central location is going to allow us to bring West Little Rock, Heights and Hillcrest, and various other locations together for a BBQ experience like no other,” said Walt Todd, Co-Owner of Count Porkula.
We will continue to follow the development of the new Count Porkula location and pass along any updates as we get them. You can also follow the new Count Porkula location on Facebook for any additional updates.