We asked Margie Raimondo, the woman behind Raimondo Winery, about her newest venture, Southern Table. Raimondo’s Southern Table is taking over the space that used to house Kent Walker Artisan Cheese at 323 S. Cross St. in Little Rock. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
AY: What’s the story of Southern Table? How did it come about?
MR: I heard about Kent Walker’s interest in selling the company through a friend. It seemed like such a logical extension of my passion to ferment foods – fruit, olives, vegetables, fruits … and now milk!
I chose to brand it Southern Table instead of Raimondo Winery. Raimondo is still focused on specializing Italian and Iberian wines, extra virgin olive oils, balsamic vinegars and gourmet foods. Southern Table extends my love to create artisan foods inspired by local ingredients with a world cuisine approach.
I want Southern Table to evoke the feeling of sharing. The Table is the place where we share — food, conversations, camaraderie. The table symbolically holds our happiness: it’s where we come to be nurtured by food and friendship. The Southern is how we share: in a welcoming, warm, hospitable, nurturing way. Simple, unconstructed and uncomplicated.
A script font is used for the word “Southern” to denote fluidity and to add a spirit of whimsy.
A semi-bold rather than bold font is used for the word “Table” to denote strength but not rigidity.
AY: What will this new restaurant serve? What are its specialties?
MR: Southern Table is a boards and bites eatery specializing in a seasonal small plate and shared menu with world cuisine dining options for vegetarians and omnivores. We designed a “shared board” to serve cured meats, cheeses, and accoutrements. We will serve our branded Southern Table cheeses, terrines, pâtés and gourmet foods plus other imported and local foods. We have different sizes of boards so that you can order a board for one, two, four or many more! We will also make seasonal small bites and a special cheese spread.
The “shared board” is represented by a round board made of oak wood with a vein of walnut. Round because the circle is the symbol of infinite energy, wholeness and universal inclusivity. It is the center point of focus for nurturing to begin. Wood represents strength. Oak carries the energy of abundance and strong health. Black walnut carries medicinal properties in the prevention and treatment of disease.
AY: How is this new place similar to – and different from – Kent Walker’s?
MR: It is similar in that we will continue to manufacture artisan cheese from local milk: cow, goat and now sheep. It is different because we will have an eatery for you to enjoy great food, local beer, local wine and to create wonderful memories. We also will have a small retail section to take home your favorite foods,
AY: What changes has the space gone through?
MR: Oh my, well you will be surprised at how open and inviting the place looks! My partner, Al, is a master at design. It is rustic chic with a Southern twist. “Southern” meaning welcoming, warm and hospitable in a simple way.
AY: What made you want to use this space?
MR: It is a familiar place for our customers.
AY: How long of a process has the opening been?
MR: We purchased the business in late April. So a few months.
AY: When did the transformation begin?
AY: Why does Little Rock need this restaurant?
MR: Of course Little Rock customers and visitors will ultimately answer this question but here is how I feel: Southern Table is not a restaurant and not a bar … it is a place to come together to enjoy good food and drink in a vibrant environment where you arrive as strangers and leave as friends.
AY: What’s your opening date?
MR: Sometime in July.
AY: Do you have any special events planned?
MR: Stay tuned. We are going to open the eatery with a few “invitation only” events. Definitely want to invite my Raimondo family of friends to get a first peak at the place … and also the family of former Kent Walker customers. Then, a grand opening.
AY: What are the restaurant’s hours?
MR: Monday through Thursday – 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday and Saturday – 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
AY: Where can people go for more information?
MR: Follow us at https://www.facebook.com/SouthernTableFoodsLR/
Featured photo via Facebook