Nearly two years after a tornado blew off half its roof and some siding, the Whataburger restaurant near 41st Street and Hudson Avenue has reopened.
“It’s been a wild year and a half,” Justin Hall, general manager, said of the process that started when the original building was razed after an Aug. 6, 2017, tornado ripped through the structure.
Hall worked for the company’s Human Resources Department before he was tapped to reopen the location.
He trained for several months at the Glenpool location leading up to the opening, and, living in the neighborhood, he would frequently be approached by people who would see him shopping after work while he was wearing his uniform.
“People would see the logo on my shirt and ask if we were rebuilding and when we were coming back. I’d have to tell them to be patient,” he said.
The EF2 tornado damaged or destroyed 129 businesses and 19 homes between 41st and 51st streets stretching from Harvard Avenue to Mingo Road, according to the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency.
The rebuilt Whataburger is more than twice the size of the original building, both inside and out. For instance, the original had 12 parking spaces, while a standard Whataburger has 20 to 35 parking spaces.
The new location can seat 135 people and has parking for 75 vehicles.
“This is the biggest Whataburger we have in Oklahoma,” Hall said.
There are 145 employees at the location.
The new building features a number of improvements over the previous location, including a state-of-the-art kitchen, double drive-thru lanes and an updated dining room.
“We want to make sure we have a parking lot that is comfortable enough for Friday nights after football games and Saturdays while people are out and about shopping,” Hall said.
“This is the neighborhood Whataburger, and we want people to be comfortable when they come here for their lunch or dinner.”
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