42 bar and table, the Clinton Presidential Center’s onsite restaurant, announced last week on social media that it has suspended its dinner service as of June 13 to fill the need for special event bookings.

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The restaurant’s bustling weekday lunch and weekend brunch service will continue daily from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., and the new hours will open up the space in the evenings to accommodate the increased demand for special event bookings, the announcement said.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that the center will be using the restaurant space to host small scale events that don’t necessitate its premier 5,100-square-foot Great Hall and Terrace.

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A report from Arkansas Business said the restaurant expects to offer dinner service at some point in the future.

It’s unclear if there are any other reasons that factored into the decision, or what this means for the restaurant’s staff. The Clinton Presidential Center has not responded to requests for comment.

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42 bar and table, previously Forty Two, began offering regular dinner service in 2017, the same year it was renovated and expanded by designer Garry Mertins with architects Steve Rousseau and Polk Stanley Wilcox. Dining on sweet potato fries with wasabi aioli on the restaurant’s excellent riverside patio on a recent afternoon, it became clear the Clinton Center’s eatery has long been at the forefront of what could be achieved by the Downtown Little Rock master plan. At present, two restaurants come to mind that offer decent views of the Arkansas River: Brave New Restaurant and 42 bar and table. Gabe Holmstrom, executive director of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership, told KTHV, Channel 11, “When my colleagues around the country come to our city and see this amazing asset, the number one question I get is, ‘Why is there not a restaurant on the river? Why are all the buildings facing away from the river?’ I don’t have a good answer for that.”

I don’t have a good answer for why I haven’t visited the restaurant in the evenings more often, and reading former Arkansas Times managing editor Leslie Peacock’s 2017 story on 42’s renovation made me wish the editorial team could hit the patio tonight after a grueling press day for dry martinis with a side of French fries. From Peacock’s story:

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“Picture a late-night drink on the riverside patio, next to one of three fire pits, in comfy furniture or dinner tables or at rail seating along the east and west walls. Sounds sort of sophisticated to this writer.”

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