A year has passed since a popular eatery in Gulfport was nearly destroyed by a tornado. But owners there said they wouldn’t let the twist of fate bring them down.
"You can actually see the tornado coming in the surveillance video,” said owner Richard Reale, describing what he saw on his cameras placed outside Yummy’s restaurant.
“The tree just comes toppling down,” he said. “You can literally see it come through the dining area."
The tornado only lasted for seconds, but he said it left a lasting wound.
"It was panic. I was just frantic," Reale said. "You don't realize how much you need your business to be open every day until you can't open it."
So Reale began to pick up the pieces and started construction while keeping what was left of the restaurant open.
Because many would-be customers thought Yummy’s was closed during renovation, sales over the last year dropped by 50 percent.
"Everything was bordered off with plywood, so it just appeared we were closed," said Reale.
The struggle continued for a year. Now with the dining room completely renovated, Reale hopes the empty seats will soon be filled.
"I'm from Chicago. I come here for the hot dogs,” said Tyler Monteith.
Montieth is a frequent customer. Even through the construction he was faithful to his tummy.
Reale said loyal customers like Montieth are keeping this 8-year-old restaurant afloat, helping to keep his dream of bringing a taste of Chicago to Gulfport alive.
Yummy’s plans to have a grand reopening Saturday during the weekend art walk.