It used to be, “Let’s go to The Hop.” Now, the Hop is closing, and new song will be, “Let’s meet At the Corner,” when Kamiya (pronounced Kam-eye-ya) Merrick opens up her “modernized” diner at 201 E. Markham St. the first of January. The Hop will close Nov. 26.

Merrick is a Canadian who came to Arkansas to play soccer for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Torn ACLs ended her soccer career, so she’s going into the food service business instead. Her parents were caterers and smoked their own meats, so Merrick said her experience goes back to her childhood.

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She plans to introduce to Little Rock (an “amazing town,” she says) the common Canadian dish poutine: House-cut french fries, cheese curd and brown gravy. That should go great with the rest of the lunch menu: hamburgers, hot dogs, salads and shakes.

The space will get a face lift before Merrick opens, but it will look familiar to Hop regulars, she said. “January is not ideal” for opening a new restaurant, she acknowledged, “but we’re so eager to get in, and we’re going to generate a lot of hype.” At the Corner will be open for breakfast and lunch, with a to-go or eat-in menu of breakfast sandwiches and Westrock Coffee in the a.m. If downtown business is good enough, At the Corner will be open daily.

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