Do you remember when, Arkansas? The first Flying Fish restaurant opened in Little Rock 20 years ago

In a clue to the planned menu for a not-yet-open restaurant in downtown Little Rock, Lance Shaw of Arnold & Blevins Electric in North Little Rock climbed a ladder in an alley April 2, 2002 to install light fixtures around of an old outboard boat. engines.

When the Flying Fish opened on April 10, it served a lot of seafood — an unusual menu 20 years ago in central Arkansas.

This fish at 511 President Clinton Ave. was the No. 1 store in a chain of restaurants created by the same team whose Flying Saucer Draft Emporium attracted beer lovers to the River Market District (Dallas-based Shannon Wynne’s 8.0 Management Inc. with local investors ) . And like Flying Saucer, the Fish was popular.

Democrat-Gazette food critic Eric Harrison’s review noted the lines stretching out the door (as they still can today). He praised the “damn fine fried and grilled seafood” and dishes other than fish; but he didn’t appreciate what he called the “clumsy ‘wait twice'” ordering system.

“First line up to place your order – the kitchen is indoors, separated by swinging patio doors from the two front dining areas – then wait a second time while your food cooks,” he said. he writes. “You get a flashing pager that notifies you when your order is ready and you can return to the counter to pick it up.

“Off peak – before lunchtime or late at night – you’ve made it. Standard food prep time is around 10 minutes. But if there’s a line, you might not out of luck, at best it takes about 90 seconds to two minutes to process an order, even if there are only 10 people in front of you, it will take 15-20 minutes just to order.

“So you might be waiting up to half an hour before you even start eating. A lot of people don’t have such long lunch hours.”

All of this is also true in 2022; waiting times are similar. Of course, the prices are not. For example, Harrison reported that baskets of fried catfish were charged by the fillet in 2002 – $3.75 for one, an extra dollar for each additional fillet, $6.75 for a whole catfish. According to the menu posted on, today’s single fillet catfish basket is $8.25 and the whole fish basket is $13.95.

The decor has not changed in 20 years, but has intensified: the wall of liars was mainly painted in 2002; today it is covered in photos. And today’s Billy Bass Adoption Wall has a much cleaner vibe. In 2002 it was a smoking section.

Lunchtime customers wait for their chance to order next to the wall of liars inside the Flying Fish April 19, 2002. (Democrat-Gazette file photo)

Comments are closed.