Owner of historic Brown Derby in Parowan plans to remodel following February structure fire

The Brown Derby, 65 E Center Street, Parowan, Feb. 25, 2020 | Photo by Kelsey Cooke, St George News / Cedar City News

PAROWAN — Parowan’s historic Brown Derby building is set to be remodeled and remain a staple for starting businesses in the community despite a fire on Feb. 7.

The building’s owner, Kathy Allen, told Cedar City News the fire only affected the west side of the building and did not damage the structure. The fire displaced a women’s clothing and accessory store, Boujee Boutique, which was set to host its grand opening the same day.

Allen said she plans to remodel the building and make it available for renting again.

“We’re completely redoing it,” she said. “They came in and totally gutted it, starting from scratch on everything on that west side. We just hope to be able to have a place for businesses to rent. We hope to get it full of business again, because Parowan certainly needs businesses.”

Allen bought the building in 1982 and sold insurance in the Brown Derby for 33 years, and said she enjoyed hearing stories from customers about the building’s rich history.

Remnants of an advertisment for dancing at the Brown Derby were found after the fire on Feb. 7, photo taken March 11, 2020 | Photo by Kelsey Cooke, St George News / Cedar City News

The Brown Derby was built in 1910 as a silent movie theatre, and has also served as a dance hall, roller skating rink, restaurant and insurance agency, as well as the starting place for many businesses.

“Bob Ray’s saddle shop started out in there and now he’s one of the famous saddle makers,” Allen said. “We’ve just had a lot of businesses get started there and then kind of outgrew it and needed more room. It’s just been a fun place.”

Allen added that one of her favorite experiences with the Brown Derby was remodeling it when she purchased the building.

“When we bought it, it was a disaster,” she said. “My husband did it and friends helped, it took them maybe six, eight months to redo it. It was really fun. We went in and we found all these old things, all the shortwave radios. They just left things, they just wanted rid of it. My favorite memory is the re-doing of the Brown Derby.”

The building is also part of Parowan’s historic district.

“Parowan is so rich in history and they want to preserve it,” Allen said.

The owner of Boujee Boutique, Stephanie McCook, said she had spent a month remodeling and getting her business set up in the Brown Derby when the fire occurred. She said she has received many requests for her business to return to Parowan, as she is currently limited to online and Facebook sales.

“We would just love for the ladies to support us so we can come back,” McCook. “It was rough. We lost a lot of money, a lot of product. It’s still tough trying to build back up. That’s why we’re doing online and (Facebook) lives right now, because we’ve looked everywhere for somewhere to rent and there’s nowhere.”

A menu from the Brown Mug Sandwich Shop, once located in the Brown Derby, Parowan, March 11, 2020 | Photo by Kelsey Cooke, St George News / Cedar City News

Vice President of Sales Natalie Jenson added that the boutique fits into a needed niche in the small town.

“There isn’t anywhere else to shop in Parowan,” she said. “There isn’t anywhere for women to buy clothes – especially for what we were carrying and catering to.”

Allen said the Brown Derby is an important part of the Parowan community.

“This is what Parowan loves,” she said. “The lady that sold it to me said, ‘there isn’t anything that hasn’t been done in that Brown Derby building.’”

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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