Mel-O-Dee Resturant suffered some damage from the tornado that struck in Park Layne on Wednesday night.
Photo: Photo: Mel-O-Dee
Photo: Photo: Mel-O-Dee

Mel-O-Dee Restaurant working hard to reopen, overwhelmed by community support

Workers have begun to make repairs to a Dayton area institution “rocked” by a tornado Wednesday.  

“They are in here working today trying to get Humpty Dumpty back on the wall,” said Woody Childers, the general manager of Mel-O-Dee Restaurant and Catering.  

>> MORE: Beloved restaurant forced to close after damage from tornado

Childers’ parents, Vigil and Sarah, first opened the restaurant for business in 1965. It has been owned by the family since.

>> MORE:  Classic Dayton restaurants you have to try and love, including the Mel-O-Dee

About $100,000 in damage was done to the building, located in Park Layne near New Carlisle, by the twister confirmed as an EF1 tornado with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour.

Repair work has begun on the Mel-O-Dee restaurant n Park Layne near New Carlisle. The eatery was damaged by a tornado, Wednesday, March 24, 2017.
Photo: Photo: Mel-O-Dee

>> MORE: Three tornadoes, zero injuries: ‘It’s a miracle,’ fire chief says

“The good news is that nobody got hurt, and the building is not so damaged it can’t be repaired,” Woody said. 

EMPLOYEES AND CUSTOMERS  WERE WARNED 

His nephew, Zack Childers, was outside when he spotted the tornado. 

“He told everybody to take cover,” Woody said. 

There were about 10 employees and 10 customers in the restaurant at the time of the storm. They took shelter in a walk-in freezer or a bathroom, Woody said. 

The restaurant is setting aside funds to help its 70 employees who need assistance purchasing groceries and prescriptions, he added. 

>> PHOTOS: See the damage to the Mel-O-Dee Restaurant

DAMAGE TO THE MEL-O-DEE 

The business’ landmark sign was damaged and an air conditioner was ripped from the roof. There was also some structural damage.

Mel-O-Dee Resturant suffered some damage from the tornado that struck in Park Layne on Wednesday night.

“It tears your air conditioner off the roof, but you still have power,” Woody said in amazement. 

There was little damage to the Mel-O-Dee’s interior decor. A nearby Sunoco Gas Station, Family Dollar and the Motor Sports of Dayton were also damaged.

A SCARY NIGHT IN THE MIAMI VALLEY 

In all, the National Weather Service confirmed three tornadoes struck Wednesday night — two in Clark County and one in Miami County. Warnings were also issued Wednesday night in Greene, Warren and Preble counties.

>> WATCH: The aftermath of Wednesday night's destructive storms

A sign from the Sunoco was found near a house in Troy.

>> MORE: Tornado sends part of Park Layne Sunoco sign to neighboring county 

 Woody was unsure when repairs to the building would be complete, and when the restaurant will be reopened. Memorial Day weekend is historically one of the restaurant's busiest times. 

“There will be no coleslaw this weekend, no chicken,” he said. “We have called all the pre-orders and told them the situation.”

Woody said the show of community support has been outstanding, and the restaurant intends to keep customers up-to-date on repairs on its Facebook page.         

The Mel-O-Dee restaurant in New Carlisle has closed "until further notice" after storm damage on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. GABRIELLE ENRIGHT/WHIO

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