Lately I have had a lot of emails from readers interested in a new fish house on Harkrider Street at the very spot where Hart’s used to be. The new place seemed to have replaced Hart’s practically overnight, they said, and they were right.

Heath’s Fish House, owned by Heath Watts, is now sitting pretty in the building at 2125 Harkrider St. and has already attracted a flock of followers from Greenbrier, its original location. Watts opened two years ago at Springhill. In the new location he has more space, and he has also expanded the menu.

Watts, who grew up in Louisiana, tends toward the Cajun style with his cooking but has learned to turn the heat down a bit for those of us who were not weaned on hot sauce. He said he can cook catfish any way you like it -- fried, grilled, spicy or not, etc., and also offers delicacies such as oysters, frog legs, shrimp and so forth.

His wife, parents and four brothers all work with him at the restaurant, as well as some friends. Watts has lived all over Louisiana, he said, and was working as a civil engineer with Southwestern Energy when he came to Faulkner County. He decided to open a restaurant and put down roots, and apparently his whole family moved here to help.

Oddly enough, we found out we are practically related too, sort of. Watts moved here from the tiny town of Bastrop, La., near Monroe. Most people don’t know where Bastrop is, but I actually have relatives there. Small world.

As for Harts, Watts said when Harts got ready to close after 30 years, they offered him the opportunity to take over the building, and he moved in three weeks later.

I took a tour through Vilonia the other day to see how the Valero/Big Red/McDonald’s was coming along on Highway 64 East. It had the look of a place that could be up and running before too long, if all goes well, although I didn’t see a lot of what I would call activity going on.

A call to the McDonald’s office in Cabot, which will manage the Vilonia restaurant, confirmed that they, at least, expect the project to be completed around mid-September. If I had to guess when it would be, I would say early to mid-October, based solely on that one glance.

Well, here’s wishing everyone a good week. Thanks for your emails.

(Rachel Parker Dickerson is a freelance columnist/journalist. Send your questions and comments to