Chef Miles James planning new restaurants in Centerton, Fayetteville and downtown Springdale

by Paul Gatling ( 2,975 views 

MJ Pizzeria, the Springdale restaurant operated by award-winning chef Miles James, is expanding.

James has signed a lease agreement to occupy about 3,500 square feet in Phase I of Centerton Plaza, a two-building strip center totaling 3.23 acres at 300 E. Centerton Blvd. It’s being marketed by Flake & Kelley Commercial of Fayetteville.

The restaurant is still three to four months from opening, following an interior build-out, James said. That’s being financed by Legacy National Bank of Springdale.

His [James] buildout concept is very methodical,” said Jordan Jeter, one of the developers. “It’s a lot more than just putting up four walls and opening the doors. He really has that restaurant dialed in.”

Jeter and his cousin, Matt Jeter, along with Cash East are the developers. Jordan Jeter, who is a partner with Flake & Kelley, said MJ Pizzeria will occupy an end cap space with a patio. El Pueblito, a popular Tex-Mex restaurant in Bella Vista, opened its Centerton location six months ago in the opposite end cap space.

Jeter said only about 3,500 square feet of the 14,000-square-foot building is available for lease. He said construction on Phase II, an 8,385-square-foot building, has broken ground and leases have been signed with two tenants — Verizon and Goodwill Industries of Arkansas. About 3,000 square feet remains available for lease in that building.

Centerton Plaza is being built by CR Crawford Construction of Fayetteville, with financing from Arvest Bank.

James has much more on his plate other than the Centerton restaurant. The former owner of the acclaimed James at the Mill in Johnson also has projects in development in east Fayetteville and downtown Springdale.

“We’re starting to get after it,” James said. “We’ve tried to stay a little quiet in getting these plans together, but the rubber is starting to meet the road.”

James, who honed his craft at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpellier, Vt., as well as in the gastronomic capitals of Paris, Manhattan, and Florence, Italy, opened MJ Pizzeria in Springdale in July 2015.

Last year, he was planning to partner with NAPA Construction of Fayetteville to build a second MC Pizzeria on Arkansas Highway 265 in Fayetteville, across from the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, but those plans were abandoned. A limited liability company controlled by Fayetteville contractor Kyle Naples, owner of NAPA Construction, bought the land this past September for $450,000.

“They [NAPA] are still willing to build a build-to-suit project over there, I just couldn’t get the numbers to pencil out,” James said.

Instead, James said he’s partnering with Springdale developer Sam Mathias to build a new concept called MJ Bistro. The site is just west of the Mission and Crossover intersection in east Fayetteville. Mathias paid $727,000 for the 2.9-acre lot in July.

“The interior finish-out will be a little more robust, we’ll up the ante on the bar side a little bit, and it’ll have a larger menu,” James said.

In downtown Springdale, James said there’s an MJ Pizzeria planned for a building owned by Philip Taldo at 200 Holcomb St. He is aiming to have it open next spring.