Chandler Shepherd had a good reason to drive from his home in Russellville to Bowling Green Wednesday.
"I'm getting the white marble pork chops," Shepherd said during his stop at Rian's Fatted Calf Meat Shoppe at 1104 Broadway Ave. "It's the best meat they have here. It's unlike any pork chop you'll ever eat."
Whether they were getting the white marble pork chops, the bacon burger or any of its other meat offerings, customers flocked to Rian's on Wednesday as the popular meat market held a grand opening that was more akin to a resurrection.
Operating since 2003, first in a 950-square-foot space on the U.S. 31-W Bypass and since 2019 at the larger Broadway location, the Fatted Calf resumed selling its meats, cheeses, seasonings and other products on Wednesday for the first time since an EF-3 tornado devastated Bowling Green and damaged the Fatted Calf building on December 11, 2021.
Now, after 454 days of waiting through a cleanup and repair that was delayed multiple times by supply chain issues and other problems, customers like Shepherd were again able to sample the fare at a business known for its custom-cut fresh meats.
"I'm really glad they're open again," Shepherd said after getting his pork chops from Fatted Calf owner Rian Barefoot. "Whatever you want, he cuts it the way you like it. It's just a terrific family business."
That business was nearly flatlined by a storm that flattened homes and commercial buildings throughout the city.
Barefoot, who first worked as the butcher at the Fatted Calf and then bought the business in 2007, explained on Wednesday that re-opening was delayed because the original damage to the roof and walls of the former home of a Blue Cotton retail store only led to discovery of other problems.
"It's nobody's fault, really," said Barefoot, a 50-year-old Ohio native who started cutting meat at age 15. "It was really just the way things fell with supply chain issues.
"Once we fixed one thing, something electrical would pop up. Then we'd have to wait on stuff to repair it. A lot of it was water damage. There was almost a foot of water throughout the building. It was a mess."
Barefoot, who runs the business alongside his wife and two children, got through the rebuild with the help of some good insurance and the support of the community.
"Insurance was wonderful," he said. "I have no complaints. It did get a little tight the last four or five months. I had income loss insurance, but it only paid for a year.
"I had to get into my savings a little bit to get us through. I'm glad to be making some money finally."
Barefoot's business is back to operating Tuesday through Saturday, serving customers from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
He said he was helped through the rebuilding process by his longtime patrons.
"Everybody was anxious for us to get back open," Barefoot said. "The support and prayers from people were great. They were calling and asking if there was anything they could do to help. That's touching to me personally.
"Bowling Green is a great place to live. The people here are just amazing."