In less than a year, The Purple Gator, with its Cajun cuisine, went from a tiny takeout spot inside a local convenience store to its own restaurant at 212 S. Second St., in downtown.

Co-owners Toni Washington, head chef, and husband Terrence James, business manager, overcame many obstacles to realize their dream with the opening Nov. 4.

“After we closed the other spot, we thought that we would move into this place in the summer, but we had some major theft,” said James. “That delayed us about six months.”

The delay also cost them about $30,000 to replace the stolen equipment and all the money invested in the restaurant, over $100,000, came from their personal funds.

Despite the expensive setback, the couple stayed positive and focused on opening their restaurant to serve the best, authentic Cajun food in the area.

“I make fresh, home-cooked Cajun food the way my uncle and mom taught me,” said Washington, a native of Laplace, La.

“I want customers to enjoy themselves and come back feeling like they got their money’s worth.”

The menu expanded to include more food choices, like a new 32-inch sandwich that is enough to feed six people.

In addition to the normal breakfast fare of beignets, chicken and waffles, and French toast, Washington created two original burritos, the Dirty Cajun and Swamp Water.

Traditional favorites include gumbo, etouffee and Jambalaya, Dirty Rice and Red beans, along with crawfish, shrimp and fried oysters, Po-Poor sandwich, and a seafood platter and boiled crab.

There’s a selection of sides, such as hush puppies and steamed corn-on-the cob among others.

Bringing a real taste of New Orleans to Central Texas, Big Shot soda, which is not sold locally, is available in different flavors, like pineapple, peach and Blue Bayou.

Working as head cashier, and anywhere else he is needed, Jaleel Washington, Toni’s nephew, is glad to help out in the growing family business.

“I’m very excited and want to learn everything I can,” he said.

James added, “We rose above everything and didn’t let anything hold us back from our dream.”

Toni Washington and Terrence James, and their family, are thrilled to once again greet and feed their faithful customers, and make new ones.

“It took us longer than we expected, but we’re ready to roll,” Washington said.

The Purple Gator

  • 212 S. Second St.
  • Copperas Cove, TX
  • Hours: Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Phone: 512-792-1420

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