Park Layne restaurant reopens after tornado damage

Customers dine at the Mel-O-Dee on its first day open after a tornado caused it to close for repairs. KATHERINE COLLINS/STAFF
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Customers dine at the Mel-O-Dee on its first day open after a tornado caused it to close for repairs. KATHERINE COLLINS/STAFF

A Park Layne restaurant has reopened after a tornado with 100 mph winds touched down, causing damage and forcing the popular eatery to close for more than a month.

The Mel-O-Dee, a staple of the Park Layne community, was damaged when an EF-1 tornado touched down near OH 235 on May 24. The tornado ripped air conditioning units off the roof and caused electrical damage, General Manager Woody Childers said.

Contractors got to work immediately, he said, and made upgrades to the paint and lighting while the restaurant was closed. Workers were still making improvements on Tuesday morning, just hours before the restaurant was set to open.

“Nobody got hurt,” he said. “The building is better than it was and we’re open.”

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The restaurant was scheduled to reopen on Tuesday at 11 a.m., but customers started rolling in around 10 a.m.

“We were the first people,” Margaret McIntire said.

She and her grandson said it was a difficult month while the Mel-O-Dee was closed.

“We come here quite frequently, sometimes twice a day,” she said, “because we enjoy the people, and the atmosphere and the food of course.”

Customers were constantly calling the restaurant while it was closed, Childers said.

“It’s a family thing,” he said. “My family is so grateful to everybody.”

Employees were excited to get back to work too, Childers said. The restaurant didn’t lose any of its 70 employees while it was closed.

It was a relief to be back, server Kara Lawson said.

“I’ve worked here fourteen plus years,” Lawson said. “They’ve always treated me like a family, all of our customers like a family. So it’s always been a great atmosphere.”

Childers said he was nervous about reopening, but he felt better when a big crowd of customers arrived. He said the Mel-O-Dee was lucky. Some local businesses impacted by the tornado, like the Sunoco gas station, haven’t been able to reopen.

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