The Pleasant Valley breakfast and brunch favorite Delicious Temptations has changed hands a few times since its opening in 1981, but one thing has remained constant: its dedication to great food and customer service.
Father and son duo Tony and Anthony Niel saw potential in the restaurant and decided to purchase it in 2007. Anthony has had a passion for cooking and the restaurant industry from a young age.
“I always enjoyed watching my grandma cook when I was younger and lived in Louisiana,” Anthony says. “I started my career in the industry at 14. I started washing dishes until I was old enough to get on the cooking line. But once I did that, I fell in love with it and would go place to place and pick the brains of other chefs and learn from what they had to teach me.”
While working in the kitchen for Delicious Temptations, Anthony saw an opportunity when the previous owner was looking to sell the place.
“Anthony approached me and said, ‘Dad, we need to buy this place,’” Tony says. “I had never had my own restaurant, so this was a different game for me, but we bit the bullet and took over in March 2007.”
Anthony stayed mainly in the kitchen at first, but is now transitioning into running the restaurant. They have also added general manager Michael Esparza to the team, who Anthony says takes pride in teaching servers to greet everyone with a smile.
“He and Anthony together have just done amazing things with this place as far as the culture and the staff,” Tony says. “We’re trying to bring it to another level.”
Esparza says it’s all about setting the tone.
“I try to stress to all our serving staff that it’s important that when someone walks in, they feel like they’re coming to your home,” he says. “There are so many different breakfast places out there, and we really want to set ourselves apart. We do that by letting customers feel like they are loved here.”
And according to regular patron Kathy Fisher, they are doing just that.
“The food is always freshly made and delicious,” Fisher says. “The servers are so friendly and helpful, and they feel like family to us. It’s our local place where ‘everybody knows your name.’”
For Tony, regulars like Fisher are the backbone of their success.
“That is the strength of this place without a doubt. I don’t know how any restaurant does it without regulars, but we’re very proud of that. We have some that come in six days a week.”
The customer experience is such a priority for Tony, Anthony and Esparza that when a 2,000-square-foot space opened next door, they decided expansion was needed for the betterment of their patrons.
“They just deserve it,” Tony says. “They deserve a better environment and more efficient operation. So that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Along with more seating, a full bar will also be added to the new space with more drink selections, which Tony hopes will bring another level of comfortability where guests feel “able to just come in, take a seat and have a drink.”
Anthony is most excited about the changes it will bring for the kitchen, including a separation between in-house and to-go order work spaces.
“It will make things faster and more efficient, and customers won’t have to wait as long or leave because of the wait times,” Anthony says.
News of the expansion has been well received by Delicious Temptations fans, with support pouring in across various social media platforms and from guests around their tables.
“It’s great to see how the community is coming together for our expansion and is rooting for us,” Esparza says.
Anthony notes expanding will also aid the catering side of the business, an important supplemental revenue stream for the restaurant, and they’re considering hosting occasional special events in the extra space.
Laura Skinner has been a regular customer for 20 years and a firm believer that Delicious Temptations will continue to be a Little Rock staple.
“They are second to none,” she says. “I can always count on their consistency. They offer great food at a good price, they have a great staff that provides excellent service and they have owners and managers that truly care about the experience you have when you are in their restaurant.”
The team hopes renovations will be complete by late August or early September. Until then, Esparza is just excited for everyone to see the update and wants customers to know how special they are to the restaurant.
“You’ve helped build us to where we are. Even during the pandemic, you supported us,” he says. “Thank you.”