Renovation to a Restaurant ~ The Grumpy Rabbit

The story of the one and only, The Grumpy Rabbit!

The Grumpy Rabbit

Tommie Gooden, Journalism 1 Student

The Grumpy Rabbit-located at 105 West Front Street in Lonoke, Arkansas- has been open for just over a year now. The building and restoration of The Grumpy Rabbit did in fact happen during COVID, so most people aren’t aware of how The Grumpy Rabbit became The Grumpy Rabbit.

Owners, Jim and Gina Cox Wiertelak purchased the extra building on December 19, 2019. Gina mentioned that her family decided they wanted a restaurant and they knew that the building located at 105 West Front Street was meant to be. She expressed that they ran into major structural issues. Gina stated, “…we had to have a lot of the brickwork redone and also put new mortar in a lot of the existing brickwork.” And just 3 short months after purchasing the building, Covid came along. Covid brought along unexpected challenges. They struggled to get materials for construction, as well as furnishings for the building, like tables, chairs, kitchen equipment, and more. Originally, the renovation was only going to take six to seven months, and due to Covid, it ended up taking exactly 13 months to renovate and open The Grumpy Rabbit.

Many guests question where the name came from. Gina is a Lonoke alumnus and her husband’s nickname is Grumpy. So together, they came up with the name-The Grumpy Rabbit.

The Grumpy Rabbit has had a HUGE impact on the small town of Lonoke. It has brought people from all over-including from other continents. Sarah Hester works at The Grumpy Rabbit as a host and a food runner. She mentioned, “Just the other night when I was hosting, I met some people from Scottland, Southern Europe, and another country all in one night! They were so nice too. I love getting to meet new people from all over the world! It’s so crazy how people traveling from different countries stop by and enjoy some yummy food from The Grumpy Rabbit!”

The Grumpy Rabbit has made tremendous impacts on the employees, student employees, and adult employees. They are always so accommodating and understand with school schedules, as well as personal schedules. Lilly Long also works at The Grumpy Rabbit and when questioned about the impacts it has made on her, she stated, “The owner has impacted my life by being so sweet and just taking me in to let me grow into a young adult. Also to show me how to juggle school and work at a restaurant because they work around my schedule…” The Grumpy Rabbit helps student employees and every employee by working hard to not let work conflict with other priorities. Eryn Wyles mentioned, “…the front of house managers work extremely hard to make sure everyone gets off on the days they request time off, and they always make sure to schedule you around any in or out of school activities.” The Grumpy Rabbit creates a fun, positive, and uplifting work environment for everyone.

The kitchen staff is who makes all the delicious food. The Grumpy Rabbit kitchen staff includes Executive Chef James Hale, Executive Sous Chef Kyle Carson, Sous Chef Danyiel “EJ” Turner, and these chefs do their best to create and develop a great selection of food for their guests. Some of their most popular Entrees are the Rabbit Dumplings at lunch, the Blackened Redfish and the Ribeye at supper and the Swamp Grits for brunch. Mrs. Gina said, “Food at The Grumpy Rabbit is customer-friendly for all! Kids, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, etc.-we are able to accommodate in most situations. My opinion is based on customer feed-back-this past year we received 5 stars out of 5! Me personally-I love it all! I also really enjoy our “back of the house” (kitchen) having “specials” for each lunch/supper! Offers variety!” The food and the hospitality at The Grumpy Rabbit are wonderful!

Just after the first year of being opened, The Grumpy Rabbit was awarded eight 2022 Arkansas Times Readers Choice Awards: Best New Restaurant, Best Overall Restaurant, Best Chef, Best Soup, Best Brunch, Best Burger, Best French Fries, Best Sandwich, and one of the finalists of Best Desserts all around Arkansas. Everything about The Grumpy Rabbit has made the best, lasting impacts on Lonoke and everyone that eats there!