Whether breakfast, brunch or lunch, curbside, take out, dine -in or catering, Rock City’s restaurant concepts make and serve high -quality and unique food.
In 2020, Joe Vincent II and his wife, Jacquelyn, opened Rock City Kitchen in downtown Little Rock. This kick-started the first of many eateries to fall under the couple’s FAB44 business umbrella.
During the height of the pandemic, Vincent said the idea took off, transforming into a full-blown establishment while most restaurants were still closed, for the most part. What started as an effort to provide viable breakfast and lunch options for essential workers grew into something much more.
“Our families have experience in the restaurant industry,” Vincent said. “We started with a micro-location in July 2020, which is Rock City Kitchen, and shortly after, we opened our second concept, Rock City Taco.” In fact, according to Vincent, it had only been about 45 days when the couple decided to follow up with a second establishment, located in the River Market district.
Rock City Taco took off with the same success Rock City Kitchen experienced just months prior. Also located downtown, it has brought a unique twist to tacos, quesadillas, burritos and more while the kitchen handles a variety of breakfast and lunch options.
With the two locations opening within months of each other, the Vincents were busy but excited in their journey to creating new food options in Little Rock. In an unprecedented time for all businesses, and an especially hectic time in the restaurant world, the rapid growth of the Vincents’ establishments made for a huge learning experience.
“Just being able to increase our knowledge was key; there were price increases, challenges, the supply chain and demand and scaling prices,” Vincent said. This made day-to-day operations more fluid, with lots of learning in the early months.
“There was the price-point change early on. We had to learn how to price our items again while working with our vendors. We didn’t want to overprice or underprice but needed to be able to price ourselves for growth we knew would happen.”
But the Vincents didn’t want to just open restaurants; their goal was to create an unbeatable experience for their customers. As Little Rock residents, this meant they wanted to create a specific taste that screamed “Rock City.” The duo, along with help from their family, did just that. Not only did they work diligently to develop and perfect their own secret seasoning blend, “Rock City Dust,” but they also make their own specialty drinks and RCK Wing Sauces. These wing sauces include Buffalo, jalapeno, chipotle, habanero, extreme, cayenne and garlic.
While Joe Vincent has worked tirelessly at ground zero creating a community, developing social media and perfecting the Rock City Family brand, Jacquelyn made sure to create an environment in which the brand could flourish. She handles catering and events for several local groups, including the Little Rock Regional Chamber, and for local events such as Tacos and Tequila and Taste of the Rock.
“The best part of being involved in the restaurants is getting to meet and greet customers and getting to serve them wonderful food,” Jacquelyn said.
Vincent’s mother, Faith Sherman, also proved to be invaluable, not only in terms of operations and logistics, but in bringing her own specialties to the concepts. Her cookies and famous cakes can be found only at the Rock City establishments. Sherman also manages scheduling and more for the storefronts.
The Vincents make it a priority to serve the community in other ways, such as the AR Free Meals program in which they provide USDA meals to after-school and summer programs in the Little Rock School District. Through the program, they also provide meals during summer day camps at the Central Arkansas Library System.
“This effort goes toward helping underserved children, teens and community members,” Vincent said.
The Vincents worked hard to create something to benefit essential workers; the success of that first venture and others has been satisfying. But the couple perhaps gets the most satisfaction out of making their customers’ dining experienc an enjoyable and unique eating adventure.
“I have a saying I use on the regular — discipline and dedication. Stay consistent with everything you do, everything you have a hand on,” Vincent said. “Of course, it takes passion to start something, but it takes long days and long nights to see it through.”
The couple not only is dedicated to seeing their own entrepreneurial efforts pan out, but in helping make Little Rock the best it can be. The Vincents are active in the Chamber, the Small Minority Business Council and Build Academy, a 12-week business development initiative through the city that walks local business owners and entrepreneurs through the process of getting their ideas off the ground.
It isn’t all work and no play for the Vincents, however. The entire family is heavily involved in sports. Their son, Cameron Hunter, a point guard on the UCA basketball team, was named the 2022 freshman of the year in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
And then there’s Jacquelyn Vincent’s creative side, which benefits the business and the community. She has taken to embroidering, screen printing and merchandise branding in an effort to create more opportunities for the community.
“It’s something I could see growing into doing business with other companies, not just with restaurants and their uniforms, but also with basketball and baseball teams, to meet different needs in the community like that,” she said.
The growth of the FAB44 umbrella is far from finished; the Vincents want to remain at the forefront of consistent innovation and expansion. The Vincents are working on several new strategies to create better experiences for guests, such as a breakroom delivery service, which eliminates time constraints for employees by way of scanning QR codes and being able to immediately pick up their food.
At the end of the day, the Vincents set out to create something special for the community and are thankful they continue to have that opportunity.
“We are so appreciative of our community and our city,” Joe Vincent said. “The support has been overwhelming over the last couple of years, and I can’t say how appreciative we are that the city has embraced us and our restaurants so well.”