LONOKE, Ark. — When Gina and Jim Wiertelak retired from decades in the insurance industry, they wanted to do something special for Gina’s hometown of Lonoke.
Their hope was to bring life back to the downtown district. Despite neither having experience running a restaurant, that’s what they did.
They opened The Grumpy Rabbit in historic downtown Lonoke and it has central Arkansas RAVING.
It’s an upscale restaurant with an aesthetic you’d find in Chicago, Dallas, or Memphis located in the heart of a traditional agriculture community.
Gina, who goes by GiGi, wanted the décor to be friendly and welcoming. Upon walking in you’ll be greeted by murals and paintings with vibrant colors and bright lights.
For Lonoke residents, the Grumpy Rabbit is a point of pride. For others in central Arkansas, it’s a destination.
When we visited there was a line of folks traveling from all over central Arkansas for lunch!
When it comes to the food, you have many options. Executive Chef James Hale has crafted a menu inspired by local culture with a few twists.
For instance, one of their most popular dishes is rabbit & dumplings. The dumplings are inspired by depression-era recipes that uses ingredients similar to those one may have gotten in government-issued rations. Their burger has won numerous awards.
Craig and Skot recommend pairing the burger with their famous tater tots. You’ll be surprised at how unique they are!
Craig and Skot were so in awe of the front of the restaurant that they nearly missed the upstairs and patio areas. Be sure to explore the restaurant!
In 2021, Pursuit, the major motion picture featuring John Cusack filmed a scene in the upstairs bar.