It’s been more than six weeks since the staff at Trio’s has been able to enter the restaurant after Pavilion in the Park — the shopping center off Cantrell Road where the restaurant has been located since it opened in 1986 — sustained damage when an EF3 tornado ripped through Central Arkansas on March 31. Trio’s owner Capi Peck said on a phone call Tuesday that she and her staff will be able to enter the restaurant again Thursday, and after a serious deep clean and a lot of prep, the venerable West Little Rock eatery will reopen this Monday.
Trio’s was prepping for a very busy weekend when the tornado hit sometime after 2 p.m. on Friday, March 31. Peck, her staff and some customers were all corralled into the Trio’s walk-in coolers where they sheltered while the front doors were blown off their hinges and debris flew into the restaurant.
For the most part everything is like they left it that afternoon, so Peck and her team have a lot of work to do.
“We’ve got to take everything out and sanitize all of our shelving units and put everything back together,” Peck said.
Peck said some parts of Pavilion in the Park are still being worked on and will remain closed for several weeks. But the temporary fencing that’s been surrounding the building will be removed and customers will be able to park.
Trio’s retained 46 of its 48 employees the past six weeks, Peck said, and her crew is eager to get back to work. Thanks to help from savings and customer support, Peck said Trio’s has been able to make three payrolls without any income. Customers have donated gift cards to employees for groceries, and Trio’s has sold about $15,000 in gift certificates, Peck estimated.
“The community has been so supportive. It’s just really heartwarming. And I think that just goes to show what 36 and a half years in this community means for a little restaurant like ours, you know. It’s our extended family.”
Peck said the initial estimated time for reopening she was given was four – six months, and she considered temporarily moving the restaurant to another unoccupied facility to get it open again, but that it would’ve been extremely difficult.
“We’ve been patient,” she said. “Nobody likes all the uncertainty or the limbo and it’s taken a lot of employee meetings and team building and reassuring and hand holding, but we’ve done it, and we’ve managed to keep the family together. That’s going to prove to be key to being ready to open the floodgates because I know it’s gonna be crazy busy.”
Peck said delivery trucks are coming Saturday and the prep will begin. She’s ordered 250 pounds of Arkansas strawberries, and they’ll be prepared for customers that have been jonesing for a Trio’s strawberry shortcake.
“We’re gonna work around the clock Saturday and Sunday. So when it’s 11 o’clock Monday morning, we will be ready,” Peck said.