PORTIA — A local restaurant has cause for celebration as it has been named to the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame.
Dairy King, located at 103 E. Front St., was one of three Arkansas restaurants to make the prestigious 2022 list, joining Colonial Steakhouse in Pine Bluff and Neal’s Café in Springdale.
“I am overwhelmed. We are extremely honored. It’s a huge honor for me and my family and especially for my father’s legacy,” said owner Gina Rorex. “I am extremely grateful to my team and my loyal customers.”
Known for its family atmosphere, ice cream and fish, Dairy King has been a Lawrence County staple since the 1950s. Purchased in 1991 by the late Don Rorex, his daughter, Gina, worked under him to learn the trade until until she took over the business in 2014.
“I worked at Dairy King under my father for 20 years,” Gina said. “It established my roots.”
With Gina running the restaurant, the business continued to thrive with new customers and returning customers. Due to the great atmosphere, friendly staff and delicious food, Dairy King was also nominated for the People’s Choice Award this year and was one of the Food Hall of Fame nominees last year. from Arkansas.
“I’m so grateful,” Gina said. “We are so proud and honored to even be considered for this.”
The final winners were chosen by a high-level jury selected by the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame committee, which included food historians, chefs, foodies and authors.
According to the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame website, “Inclusion in the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame will be a triumphant recognition of these long-standing restaurants that have also become legendary attractions in the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame. authentic Arkansas. These are the places with the dishes we crave and will drive for hours, if need be, just to grab a bite.
Each year, three winners are inducted into the prestigious Arkansas Food Hall of Fame. Officials said this year more than 2,000 submissions were received from all 75 counties in the state. Of the 2,000 submissions, Dairy King was one of 15 finalists, alongside well-known Arkansas restaurants such as Kream Kastle and the Dixie Pig, both in Blytheville.
“Suppose you’re on the road between Walnut Ridge and Black Rock and you crave a milkshake. Frankly, this is the perfect place to have it. Just stop at the Dairy King in Portia, a classic 1950s roadside drive-in,” said Stacy Hurst, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.
“Some people say it’s the best milkshake or the best ice cream they’ve ever had. But that’s not all you’ll find. There are also burgers, catfish, fresh steaks and fries, home fries and onion rings, all reasonably priced and delivered by incredibly friendly staff that you would expect in a small town.
The winners were announced in a hybrid ceremony at the Central Arkansas Library System’s Ron Robinson Theater in downtown Little Rock on Monday.
When asked how she learned to run a successful restaurant, Gina replied with a smile, “All my knowledge of this business came from college at Don Rorex.”