Restaurant owners assess damage after car hits building - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Restaurant owners assess damage after car hits building

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Outside the Ha Long Bay restaurant on Willy Street the day after a car smashed into the building. Outside the Ha Long Bay restaurant on Willy Street the day after a car smashed into the building.

MADISON (WKOW) --- Owners of a popular Madison restaurant are assessing the damage after a car crashed into the Ha Long Bay Vietnamese Restaurant on Williamson Street Friday afternoon.

No one inside the building was hurt and the restaurant is now closed. Police said the driver had a medical emergency at the time of the crash.

Now, the owners are trying to figuring out when they can re-open.

“I think that it's been really surreal,” said Stephanie Le, who is owner Jean Tran's niece and also helps manage the restaurant.

“I think that yesterday we were in a big state of shock. Nobody expects a car to come into your business. You don't wake up one morning thinking that. So I think we're probably still going to process it for little bit,” she said.

Owner Jean Tran got help from family, who spent part of Friday night clearing out debris.

“They just moved a few bricks and they got in there and boarded up the window area last night,” she said.

“We won't be able to have electricity until the building is deemed safe enough,” Le said. “We had to move all of our food that we had prepped and stored in all of our freezers, we had to move that all out. That’s just going to family and friends or donations. Obviously we don’t have use for it.”

The family doesn't know how long the popular restaurant will be closed. But it couldn't have come at a worse time. UW-Madison graduation weekend is coming up. It's one of the restaurant's busiest times of the year.

“I think we have maybe 30+ reservations just for Friday and Saturday alone this coming week. We're hoping that we could be open by then. But who knows?” Le said.

“I think we’re hoping they (building inspectors) will say it’s going to be more of a cosmetic issue and not a structural issue. But the building is pretty old, so we kind of just have to see what they say about structural damage. I think that will determine how long it’s going to take us to reopen,” she said.

The outpouring of help from the community has been tremendous. Some neighbors even offered to sleep inside the restaurant overnight if the owners couldn't get the windows boarded up.

“It made us feel really good I think. We always know that people enjoyed coming to eat at our restaurant. But I think it was really heartwarming to really feel like people cared about us also. Not just coming in to eat,” Le said.

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