Determined to reopen soon | Rock Candy

Determined to reopen soon

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Jeff Thatcher sends along a note about the scheduled reopening of Doe's Eat Place following a fire that damaged the Little Rock landmark's kitchen:

Doe's Eat Place Expected to Reopen on April 15 Despite Grease Fire

Doe's Eat Place, the legendary Little Rock restaurant frequented by local, state and national politicians, lobbyists and general connoisseurs of fine steak, tamales, gumbo and other delicacies, was struck by a grease fire in the eatery's kitchen late Friday evening, March 19.

Even though the restaurant, which is located at 1023 West Markham St., had closed for the evening, there were a couple of tables of diners still seated, according to Doe's owner George Eldridge. One of the diners noticed flames shooting up in the kitchen and alerted the wait staff, who grabbed fire extinguishers. However, they were not able to control the blaze, so the Little Rock Fire Department was called.

The Fire Department "got there almost lickety-split," Eldridge said in a recent interview, "and did a wonderful job containing the fire." The blaze was confined primarily to the kitchen. "There was not hardly any structural damage, except to the ceiling," Eldridge said.

There was also smoke damage sustained throughout the restaurant, which will necessitate having the eatery "de-smoked," Eldridge said. "We'll have to take all the pictures and the memorabilia down; it will be a pretty good-sized job."

Despite the damage, Eldridge said he "is shooting for" Doe's to reopen on April 15. "We have the contractors and the equipment people lined up and the insurance is taken care of."

Eldridge said he was extremely grateful for the outpouring of support he has received from the Little Rock community since the fire occurred. "Friends, customers, the city, the insurance company and many others have been very willing to help," he said. "That has been a real positive." He also cited the support of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services in helping keep his employees afloat during the interim: "They have been very helpful."

Doe's rose to national prominence during the 1992 presidential election campaign, when staffers of then-candidate Bill Clinton made it their hangout. Clinton was interviewed in Doe's for a September 1992 Rolling Stone magazine cover story and has remained a loyal customer of the restaurant ever since. The restaurant was also featured in "The War Room," a 1993 documentary of the Clinton Presidential campaign.

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