In a press release sent out today, Count Porkula BBQ, a food truck turned brick and mortar restaurant housed within The Rail Yard at 1212 E. Sixth St., announced a partnership with Jim Keet’s JTJ Restaurants to open its first stand-alone location in early 2022. Count Porkula was established in 2008 by Kelly Lovell and Walt Todd. After years of catering and operating out of a food truck, they moved into the Rail Yard food truck beer garden in 2018. The Keet family’s JTJ Restaurant group own and operate eight Tazikis locations, Petit & Keet, Cypress Social and will open a Waldo’s Chicken & Beer location in North Little Rock later this year. The partnership will bring Michael Bodnar of Fresh Hospitality and Mark Waldo of Waldo’s Chicken & Beer to the team.
“We are overly excited about the new partnership with JTJ and Fresh Hospitality,” said Kelly Lovell, co-owner of Count Porkula. “When Tommy Keet called us in 2020 and stated he was bringing a gentleman from Fresh Hospitality to come try our food, we never imagined it would turn into a glowing partnership and opportunity to grow our Count Porkula Brand.”
Design plans are underway for the new location, which will be just off the north side of Cantrell Road at 201 Keightly Drive, where Ozark Country Restaurant was located until a massive fire destroyed the building in 2018. The new 2,900-square-foot restaurant will feature indoor and outdoor seating, a full bar, curbside, to-go and online ordering.
“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. “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!”
“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 Rail Yard 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.
Count Porkula’s location in East Village at the Rail Yard will stay in operation.