Raleigh landmark reopens after tornado

January 20, 2012 11:06:20 AM PST
Nine months after a tornado destroyed Earp's Seafood, the South Saunders Street restaurant has reopened.

Owner David Salmon told ABC11 Thursday it's taken months of work.

"My old customers are what I'm really looking forward to seeing," he said.

Salmon and his wife Nancy have said they are focused on moving past the April 16 tornado that hit downtown Raleigh. During the storm, the Salmons and about nine customers huddled in the back of the seafood restaurant.

"It was pretty bad and it sounded just like a locomotive," David said. "The roof went off. It was taken off. Some of the block came in back there. The lights came off. Water was pouring in from everywhere."

"It has been a nightmare," Nancy said. "It has taken nine months."

Nine months and two building permits later, the result is something remarkably close to the original store Nancy's parents, Herbert and Mary Earp, opened 43 years ago.

"My parents built this with $50 in their pocket," Nancy said.

The couple said builders were able to salvage three of the original walls.

"There is a part of my parents that is still left," Nancy said.

Now the restaurant has reopened, customers will recognize the menu and Miss Betty Harris, a 32-year employee.

"They seem like (my) brother, sister and Mrs. Earp seems like my mother," Harris said. "The economy is so bad. [It's] too good to have a job to come back to."

"Good comes out of all things if you allow it," Nancy said. "So, we've allowed it and a good thing has come out of this."

Herbert Earp died several years ago. However, 86-year-old Mary Earp was on hand to cut the ribbon Friday.

Click here to learn more on the Earp's Seafood Facebook page.

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