The official start of winter is only a few weeks away, yet Fort Smith residents received an early taste of the season when an ice storm hit the River Valley and caused many of the city's restaurants to shut their doors early on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
The day began with a steady stream of rain showers, however the decreasing temperatures made the roads slicker as the day turned into night. This hazard forced many of Fort Smith's restaurants to close earlier then planned. Chili's, located at 6702 Rogers Avenue, closed at 6 pm when the roads started to ice over. Other restaurants in the city's famous “Restaurant Row” to shut its doors included Olive Garden and Red Lobster, both located in the 7000 block of Rogers Avenue, closed an hour earlier. The closures effected more than just the restaurants on Rogers Avenue. George's Restaurant located at the corner of Grand Avenue and Greenwood Road was unresponsive when contacted, and La Huerta closed its locations on Garrison Avenue, Old Greenwood Road and Rogers Avenue closed between 6-7 pm.
Some restaurants chose to brave the storm. Applebee's, located at 6818 Rogers Avenue and Hooter's located at 6401 Rogers Avenue planned to remain open until midnight. Other restaurants that planned to close at their regular times include Buffalo Wild Wings located at 6550 Rogers Avenue which planned to stay open until 1:30 am, Logan's Roadhouse located at 6201 Rogers Avenue and Outback Steakhouse located at 6800 Rogers Avenue both planned to close at 10 pm, and La Huerta Mexican Restaurant located at 5511 Towson Avenue said that they would stay open until 9 pm. Fort Smith's venerable diner, Benson's Grill, located at 2515 Rogers Avenue vowed to stay open regardless of road conditions along with other 24 hour stalwarts Denny's and IHOP.
There is no word as to whether any of the restaurants that closed would open the following day, but with driving conditions continuing to deteriorate Fort Smith may have fewer dining options this coming weekend.
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