“People say this location is cursed, but it isn’t,” says Gene Lee, the owner, operator, and “janitor” at Proof. “If you do a good job, people will keep coming back.” Lee opened Proof in March, hoping to establish the place as a
“We’ve got a really diverse crowd,” he says. “You’ll see business people here in suits sipping on martinis and then somebody in shorts and flip-flops having a beer.”
Lee cut his teeth making cocktails and running the bar at The Pantry for about eight years, made a brief stop in New Orleans, and then decided to come back to Little Rock. He was calling around some of his old restaurant buddies looking for pick-up server shifts when he talked to Ugur Tasar, who owned Next (Proof’s predecessor). Tasar said he didn’t have any work because he was trying to sell the place and told Lee to be on the lookout for interested parties.
“He gave me a price, and I took it,” Lee says.
His goal was to establish a
The Vagabond ($10) is a darn tasty concoction and guaranteed to lighten the mood of even the dourest of patrons. It’s tequila-forward, but the pear brandy, lemon and honey come through. By the time you’re halfway done with it, you won’t really care what’s in it. Those of us who ordered one became more chatty and attractive.
We ran into an issue ordering food. The cook was a no-show and wouldn’t be coming back ever. Lee left a busy bar to drop some french fries and wings, though, for which we were thankful. The wings come six for $7, and you have your pick between the Buffalo, barbecue or dry-rub variety. We were certain we wanted Buffalo. Lee was adamant that we really wanted dry-rub. He was right. The rub of paprika, cumin and some other spices he wouldn’t mention was enticing. The wings themselves were hefty, juicy and delicious.
“I probably get more excited about food these days than I do the drinks,” Lee says. “I think the key with our menu is I don’t ever want it to
Stay tuned. Lee says the Proof Burger is coming soon. He starts by adding a small
2611 Kavanaugh Blvd.
Since the cook quit, the pimento cheese ($6) was about our only other option and it was a good one. It’s got a bit of a kick to it and is served with celery, carrots and pretzel chips. It’s a good, dense nibble, and satisfying. Wash it down with a Moscow Mule ($7.50) for a kick of a different kind.
4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.