Busy bears serving hot bacon … a first look at Black Bear Diner

April 22-28, 2019

By Cait Smith


Black Bear Diner is a family-friendly establishment that has an array of food items to choose from. No matter the time of day, you have the choice of breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Whatever you get you won’t be disappointed, as their big portions will leave your tummy full.  


Although the black bears have been serving the community of North Little Rock since Feb. 25, 2019, this eatery has been feeding the nation since 1995. Founded in Mt. Shasta, California, by Bob and Laurie Manley with their partner Bruce Dean, the three were inspired to name their restaurant after the black bear, a native of Mt. Shasta. 


According to their website and Facebook page, the founders’ wanted something close to home. Remember waking up on a Saturday morning to the smell of mom’s bacon sizzling in the pan? You helped her crack the eggs or stir the pancake batter. This is the type of home-style cooking they aimed for – bringing quality back into the dining experience. 


All their workers are instilled with the same work ethic – that good down-home experience. General manager of the recently opened diner in North Little Rock, Sara Merchant stated, “It’s very important that we provide our customers with the utmost care because we base our service off southern hospitality. That’s one of the things that I’m really proud of with this company.”


Since the grand opening, Merchant stated that she has received nothing but positive feedback from the community. Even their Facebook page is full of compliments on their service and food. Merchant explained how the franchise is most known for their huge portions. “When you come, you probably will be walking out with a to-go bag. You definitely get what you pay for.” 


When the Daily Record team visited, their experience was enjoyable. After being seated in one of the large and comfy booths, they were handed menus – which replicated a morning newspaper. They recalled it felt like being at grandmas. 


Nice one bears. 


With as wide of a selection as they have, it was hard for them to pick. Cait decided on the ‘Bear’s Choice’ and Becca got the ‘Fit & Focused - 2-Egg Combo.’ About five minutes later, a lovely waitress sat two plates fit for a champions in front of them. 


On Cait’s plate: powdered, soft French Toast, cheesy scrambled eggs, and crisp, morning fruit in a bowl. Across the table, was Becca’s plate: two scrambled eggs, flaky hash browns, and a massive buttermilk biscuit. The hot coffee was a nice touch as it came in one of their signature black bear mugs. By the end of our meal, they both surpassed the point of being full. 


Not only did they leave satisfied, their money went to a good cause. Black Bear Diner is actively involved in the community. With the purchase of every single cup of 100 percent Nicaraguan coffee, all profits go to fund the Bears Brew Back initiatives. Some of which include the Backpack Project (backpacks are filled with essential school supplies and are donated to schools) and the Well Project (new well and piping systems are installed for families in Mancotal, Nicaragua to gain access to fresh water). 


Since their visit, the Daily Record team can say Black Bear Diner achieved its mission. The team was welcomed with open arms, the waitress served them with joy, and their meals were cooked with love. They know where they’re going for brunch this Sunday, do you? 


Black Bear Diner is located at 2724 Lakewood Village Drive, North Little Rock, AR 72116. Their business hours are Sunday-Saturday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.


(Some information from Blackbeardiner.com and https://www.facebook.com/BlackBearDiner/)




1. Hungry customers come and go on a Friday afternoon at the Black Bear Diner in North Little Rock, Arkansas. (Photos by Cait Smith)


2. Inspired by co-founder Bob Manley, also an art enthusiast, each diner features custom artwork from the inside out. The clever bear carvings reflect the local flavor of each diner. You’ll find bears as skiers, fighter pilots, and more.


3. One of the first things you will notice about Black Bear Diner is their unique menu. Designed  just like a newspaper, this touch will give you  the ultimate home dining experience. 


4. The ‘Bear’s Choice’ is the second most popular item on the breakfast menu; the first being ‘The Grizz.’ Since more options come with the ‘Bear’s Choice,’ one of the members on the Daily Record Team  got French Toast and was able to substitute the meat for fruit. 


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