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a booming bistro on the ridge
story and photo by Shaila Creekmore

After spending much of his youth working in his family’s restaurant, Greg Vance has found his way back to the kitchen with the launch of his new local restaurant, Bistro on the Ridge.

Vance, the son of Gene and Peggy Vance, began working at Grant’s Place Restaurant when he was just 14 years old and continued until he graduated from Arkansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Following years of working in accounting and sales analysis in both the northwest and northeast parts of the state, Vance began catering for friends and family. As requests started to grow, he launched All Events Catering and decided to turn it into his full-time career, along with a full-service restaurant.

“I’ve always loved to cook,” said Vance. “The catering is getting bigger, and I decided it was time to do it full time. I decided to open the restaurant to help during the slow times (of the catering business).”

Vance began looking at space options that would allow seating for the restaurant in addition to kitchen space for both sides of the business. A resident of the southwest side of Jonesboro, he knew he wanted a space located in that area.

“There is really nothing on this side of town, and I felt like there was a need for something here,” said Vance. “We’ve had a great response from people over here. ... Most are ecstatic that they can come in and eat and not have to go to the other side of town.” Vance chose a space that had previously served as a fast food chain and had been sitting empty for nearly a year. With some cosmetic upgrades and renovations to the outside to change the look of the building, Vance opened for business on Nov. 19, 2013.

The location can seat approximately 65 people; Vance said he is already looking at how additional seating might be added.“We could use more seating at times, but we’re doing good,” said Vance. “We’ve not had a true week yet because of the holidays and the weather to know what we’re going to do.”

When selecting a name for the restaurant, Vance called upon friends and family to help him come up with names and to narrow down his choices.

“It was a several week process of throwing out all kinds of names,” said Vance. “A friend of mine in Little Rock is the one that came up with Bistro on the Ridge. It was put on the list of 50-plus names that were debated and thrown around for several weeks. Bistro means small restaurant, so that was fitting, and ‘on the Ridge’ is obvious because we’re located on Crowley’s Ridge. It fit.”

The location did keep the drive-thru window, but it is used topick up call ahead orders only. All items on Bistro on the Ridge’s menu can be ordered for pickup, including frozen entrees and soups that can be taken home to be heated. Frozen meals are available in a small size that serves two to three people, a medium size for four to five people and a large size that serves six to eight people.

Vance developed the menu to have a broad range of items, from burgers and wraps to steak and shrimp.

“I wanted something different – something different for Jonesboro,” said Vance. “I wanted to create a wide menu.”

The lunch menu offers salads, wraps made with fresh rotisserie chicken, paninis and sandwiches such as fried bologna, Reuben and gourmet grilled cheese. A favorite on the menu is the Bistro Pimento Cheese Sandwich, which is a generous portion of pimento cheese topped with fried green tomato, bacon and lettuce on a choice of bread. Another popular choice is the Bistro Burger, which
is served on a brioche bun with a choice of cheeses and toppings.

The dinner menu features all of the lunch options with the addition of tempura shrimp, a 12-ounce rib eye, a 6-ounce filet and pesto pasta with shrimp. All of the sandwich and entrée items come with sides, which include homemade chips, onion rings, potato and pasta salads and homemade fries that are hand cut in the kitchen each day.

Bistro on the Ridge recently began having daily and weekly specials that will feature items not listed on the menu or specials featuring a variety of items from the menu. Vance is also looking at several items he can add to the specials list from the recipes used at Grant’s Place Restaurant in response to requests from customers.

“The menu is going to change every so often to highlight new items,” he said. “We’ll make adjustments based on what appeals to people and what people request.”

Sunday brunch draws in a steady crowd from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as it serves items such as potato hash, three meat cheese quiche, cornmeal pancakes, salads, sandwiches and burgers.

“Sunday brunch is really big for us,” said Vance. “We have a limited time, so we have a limited menu.”

For dessert, Bistro on the Ridge has homemade chocolate chip cookies, chocolate brownies and chocolate and coconut pies available whole or by the slice.

Bistro on the Ridge, located at 914 Southwest Drive, is open from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. For moreinformation, call 268-6780 or go to bistroontheridge.com.