Mexican restaurant Mojitos & Margaritas Grill & Bar has closed its location in North Little Rock’s Lakewood Village Shopping Center, and Rivera Italian Restaurant – which is currently operating on McCain Boulevard — will be taking its place.

Rivera owner Johnny Qerimi said the plan is to relocate the restaurant to Lakewood Village in the fall, and once that project is complete, turn the current Rivera spot into a pizzeria serving New York-style pizzas. “We’ve been here for three and a half years, we’ve built good relationships with the customers and we’re doing very well,” Qerimi said. “But we need a bigger place.”

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Rhett Brinkley
Rivera’s Chicken Rivera

Rivera’s current spot in the small strip mall at 4546 E. McCain Blvd. between Burger King and Walmart Supercenter is certainly cozy, with about 15 tables that fill up quickly during rushes.

Rivera’s cozy dining room in North Little Rock.

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The move to the 6,000-square-foot space at 2629 Lakewood Village Drive seems like a solid strategy, and a New York-style pizzeria is something North Little Rock is currently lacking.

What does the future hold for Mojitos & Margaritas? I ordered takeout there on June 14, and it felt slower than usual, but I didn’t consider that it might be closing in less than two weeks. After seeing posts on Facebook about its closure Tuesday night, I drove over, and it looked like it had already been significantly cleared out. It’s unclear if it’s closed permanently or moving to a new location, but we’re trying to track that information down. The restaurant opened in 2019 in the space that has previously housed Cilantro’s Grill and Taste of India.

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Qerimi said the target date on the move is November. Once they’re settled in the new Lakewood Village spot, they’ll start renovating the former Rivera’s to the pizzeria, which he hopes to open in January.