Leo's Greek Castle in Hillcrest Under New Ownership

Did you hear that Leo’s Greek Castle, the longtime Mediterranean institution in Little Rock’s Hillcrest neighborhood, has new owners?

The facts: Frank Cox III and Thomas Alford III bought the gyro joint a few weeks ago from Hector Parodi. Parodi had run the restaurant for almost 20 years. The restaurant itself was built as a filling station more than 60 years ago, became a malt shop, then a Mediterranean restaurant later in the 20th century.

Cox, 24, told us that he and Alford, also 24, had frequented the restaurant since childhood. The two met in Boy Scouts, Alford said, and attended middle and high school together.

The two of them heard that Parodi was selling the business for personal reasons, and the price was right, so they jumped in. (The pair declined to disclose any dollar amounts.) Cox said they own the business but not the real estate. The property is owned by The Hillcrest Group LLC, led by James D. Bryant and Brett N. Smith.

Cox said he previously owned a small logistics company, but that project has been put on the back burner since this opportunity came along.

As for the restaurant, the pair has big plans.

“The thing is with this store, it has so much potential,” Cox said. “The problem with it before is it never changed with the times. They never considered bringing Wi-Fi to the restaurant, they never considered a beer and wine license, they never considered even repainting the place or staying open later than 8 p.m.”

Cox said he and Alford want to first focus on making the restaurant as efficient as possible, then start bringing in some of those innovations he mentioned. The menu — a mixture of American diner fare and traditional Greek food like gyros and hummus — will stay much the same, but Cox said he hopes to improve the quality and expand options.

“There are a few different roads we can take,” Cox said. “We’re still at the infant stages at this point. The bottom line is we want to modernize the restaurant and make it more convenient for today’s customer.”