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Purple Cow Aims for October Reopening After Tornado DamageLock Icon

2 min read

The Purple Cow at 8026 Cantrell Road in Little Rock, which was heavily damaged by the March 31 tornado, is aiming for an October reopening.

That’s the word from Ken Vaughan, president of the Purple Cow restaurant chain. 

The restaurant, which opened 34 years ago, is the original Purple Cow, and the owners are looking at what they might do differently in reconstructing the 1,700-SF building. “We’re exploring our options into how do we want this restaurant to look going forward,” he said.

But, Vaughan said, they’re “100% committed” to the location. “We’re such a beloved part of the neighborhood,” he said. “They’ve been so good to us. We’ve had an outpouring of support from our longtime patrons and our shorter-term patrons. It’s just been very, very touching, and we just don’t want to go anywhere else.”

He and his business partners are “being deliberate at this point because we want to do it right.”

Although October is a goal, if “we do something more elaborate than what we have now, … that could take a little bit longer,” Vaughan said.

When the tornado struck that Friday afternoon, no diners remained in the restaurant. The six staff members there sheltered in the restaurant’s walk-in coolers and emerged unscathed. 

The building was not so lucky. The storm ripped off the patio canopy, did major damage to a stone wall and lifted off the roof, though it settled back onto the structure. A new roof, however, will be necessary. All the windows and doors were damaged or destroyed, and the HVAC units on the roof will need to be replaced. The restaurant employed about 25 full- and part-time staff, about half of whom agreed to be relocated to one of the four other Purple Cow locations. About a quarter of the employees said they’d return when the rebuilt Cantrell Road site reopened, and Vaughan said the partners hadn’t heard back from the remaining workers. “We have not laid anybody off,” he said.

Vaughan said the mini-chain is considering buying a food truck and operating it at the Cantrell Road property, though “that’s in the conceptual stage right now.” He also noted the popularity of the site’s Saturday and Sunday brunches and said that the Purple Cow at 11602 Chenal Parkway in west Little Rock is now opening at 10 a.m. on the weekend to serve brunch, “so that people who miss our brunch at Cantrell, they can go to Chenal and have brunch, starting at 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.”

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