Faulkner County Health Department and the City of Conway had not checked off on a downtown restaurant before owners began serving chicken and waffles to diners in September.
TK’s Chicken ‘N Waffles, 1020 Van Ronkle Street, opened under the ownership of Conway natives Tim and Rhonda Boyd.
Tim Boyd, who closed the restaurant about two weeks after it opened, said the business closed as a result of costs associated with bringing the establishment up to code and due to miscommunication between himself and permit issuers.
Lynn Hicks, Conway city building inspector, said his first involvement was after the restaurant was open.
The restaurant lacked required emergency lighting and exits, adequate bathroom facilities, a hood and duct system and fire suppression system, he said.
“They didn’t have any type of hood and duct over the chicken they were frying. It really created a potentially dangerous situation with what they were doing without having proper protection,” Hicks said. “Had they checked with me, they would have found there were some code requirements.”
In Conway, a new owner or lessee of an establishment is required to have a compliance evaluation if the space’s classification changes, for example from retail to a restaurant.
Boyd said Wednesday he was unsuccessful in attempts to communicate with officials with the city and health departments.
He said he did get the approval of the Conway Fire Department. Fire Marshal Kenny Wiedower confirmed the restaurant was on record with the department.
“I was told one thing and then something different,” he said. “I was told to open, and two weeks later the code inspector came in and told me I had to do this and do that.”
Officials with the health department said the restaurant lacked an opening inspection.
“Those who ate there did so in an establishment that opted to forgo traditional regulations,” said Tracie Wilson, environmental health specialist.
Wilson said by the time her department heard about the business, it had already closed.
“Some people who work with us went to eat there, and it was gone,” she said. “We just learned about it.”
Boyd said he and his wife are looking out of town for a building that already meets code requirements, and the couple is interested in a building in Morrilton.
“A lot of people have called wanting chicken and waffles back,” he said.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)