Sept. 8 was the first day of business for Li’l Willy’s Smokehouse BBQ, a new venture from Conn’s Hospitality Group. The restaurant is occupying the former Free Press Coffee location at the corner of South Grand Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard, which closed on July 3.
The name Li’l Willy refers to the childhood nickname for William Van, the family namesake of Wm. Van’s Coffee, also owned by Conn’s Hospitality Group. The new restaurant will serve coffee until 2 p.m., in addition to breakfast until 11 a.m. and lunch and dinner from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
The adjacent property at 910 South Grand Ave. is also now owned by Conn’s Hospitality Group. In January, owners Court and Karen Conn announced plans to convert the former Paris Cleaners building to a neighborhood “snug pub” serving American and European beers.