The Malt Shop nearly back to normal after crash

Published 12:01 am Saturday, October 27, 2012

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Caroline Kaiser, 12, and her brother Matt, 6, grab their sweet treats as they are served by Marissa Holley Friday afternoon at The Malt Shop. The restaurant reopened after a car crashed into the building Oct. 7 for the second time in 15 months, but still has more repairs to be back its original condition.

NATCHEZ — The Malt Shop isn’t back to its old self just yet, but it is open and on its way.

Owner Gloria Neames said the shop was open for the balloon race, one of the biggest business weekends of the year, thanks to the hard work of her contractors.

The Malt Shop closed when a vehicle crashed through the front of the business — in the second such accident in 15 months — at a high rate of speed Oct. 7.

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The Malt Shop operated during the balloon race with plywood boarding up the building, but plate glass was installed Thursday, Neames said.

“A huge part of (the shop being open) is due to the diligence of Blanton Construction; they’ve been great about getting everything quickly, as well as the contractors,” she said.

Neames doesn’t have her Coca-Cola Co. equipment yet, so she is serving canned sodas instead of fountain drinks.

The bar that held the toppings for The Malt Shop’s ice cream treats was destroyed in the crash, so employees must keep the toppings iced down in pans.

“It’s nothing I can’t operate without,” Neames said. “I can cook, and I have ice cream, and that’s the big thing. Anything else is just an inconvenience for us, it’s not going to affect the public in any way.”

The shop’s picnic table will be ready next week, and Neames said concrete has been added to the table’s posts as a reinforcement and protector.

Concrete barriers, Neames said, will be installed in front of the restaurant to stop any vehicles that might be headed for the building.

Those will come after Neames has replaced her equipment and gotten things back to normal at the shop.

“I’m not going to put those things up before trying to get life back to normal for my employees,” she said.

The damage for the latest crash is much more extensive than when the shop was struck by a vehicle in July 2011, Neames said. She said she is hoping things at The Malt Shop can be back to normal in the next month.

“I really appreciate everybody being so supportive,” Neames said. “My contractors, the painters, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, everybody has been so good to me.”