“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.