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This Little Rock restaurant is hoping to change stigma of city

Charlie's Place is an integral part of the southwest Little Rock community, with the restaurant hoping to change the perception of the area.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — If you walk into Charlie's Place in southwest Little Rock, it might feel a little familiar. Well that's because the restaurant, that also acts as a bar and live music venue, saw its original debut on Super Bowl Sunday.

The restaurant's opening goes far beyond just business for owner, Maurice Mahmoud-- the restaurant is intended to help those in the community.  

"As I started looking at southwest [Little Rock] I didn't see anything that comes here of any value," Mahmoud said. "So, I decided to do this so I can let the people of southwest enjoy themselves."

Mahmoud has been living in southwest Little Rock for the past 20 years. 

In the time that he's lived there, he said the community has always been good to him. With that in mind, he said the venue is his small way of giving back to the community. 

It may be his small token of appreciation, but when you walk into the restaurant and you'll notice that there's nothing small about the venue. 

The building sits at a spacious 35,000 square feet and is able to accommodate 1,900 people. 

The building also features several entertainment options with 50 television screens, several pool tables, multiple bars, and a large stage.

"You can come here and watch games, or you can come here and shoot pool. You can come here and eat dinner, or you can come here and sit at the bar and grab a drink. You can watch a concert, anything," said Mahmoud.  

That's something that's also seen among the staff at Charlie's Place too. 

Michael Christopher Norris serves as manager and host over the venue. He grew up in southwest Little Rock and has several relatives in the area. 

He said when you give people activities in the city, that stops them from having to travel across town to do something else.

"My history in southwest goes back before the 90s, so I want to see it successful. We want this to be a melting pot. It's a place for everybody-- old, young, white, Black, it does not matter," Norris said. "Whatever type of music you like, we have it. Whatever type of food you like, we have it."

It's also an effort that's being seen by those away from restaurant.

Little Rock officials, like Ken Richardson, said that it's important for the city to concentrate on diversity and redevelopment opportunities in the community.

"I think unfortunately this area gets defined by only certain types of businesses that come here, when we need diversity in business here too," Richardson said. "We don't want to have just convenient stores and liquor stores that would limit the attraction of a Charlie's Place."

He also adds that there's talk for new redevelopment plans for southwest. 

Norris and Mahmoud just want people to know that there was a lot of work put into bringing the space alive just for them.

"I want to make sure that the entire city comes here and recognize that we have a new venue. It's a venue for everyone to enjoy. If you want to go somewhere else you can go somewhere else, but here under one roof you can just enjoy yourself," said Mahmoud. 

 

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