When meteorologists in North Texas told folks near Preston Hollow to get into a tornado-safe spot, about 12 staffers and customers at Fish City Grill ran to the walk-in cooler. It was cold, but it was safe.
A funnel cloud dragged over the Preston-Royal area of Dallas, and the windowless cooler kept Fish City Grill’s employees sheltered as the restaurant’s walls and ceiling were shredded.
But one customer didn’t follow the group. A server pulled him into the kitchen, says Fish City Grill co-founder Bill Bayne, and they flattened themselves on the kitchen floor. That act kept them safe, and no one was hurt at the restaurant despite massive damage.
“It looks like bombs went off,” Bayne says.
He plans to reopen the restaurant, though there’s no estimated time frame yet.
In that same shopping center, most of the tenants were badly damaged, like Interabang Books and My Family’s Pizza. Frank Nuccio, owner of My Family’s Pizza, wonders if the shopping center will have to be razed.
The storm forced My Family’s Pizza to close for the first time in more than 55 years. They’re open 365 days a year, and have been since 1962.
Nuccio says he remembers a tornado hitting near his family-owned pizza shop in the late ’70s. “I grew up five houses behind that shopping center,” he says. “I watched the tornado pass the street over. … So I was pretty sure the odds of that happening again were zero. But I guess tornadoes strike twice.”
He also notes that his restaurant was one of the few that had remained open in power outages over the years, because they have gas ovens. “We’ve always been open in emergency situations,” he says.
He plans on reopening My Family’s Pizza but knows it will be a long time before that happens.
Princi Italia, a restaurant at the northwest corner of Preston-Royal, is another example of a restaurant that used its walk-in cooler as a shelter spot during the tornado. After customers and employees got the all-clear, some found trees smashed into their cars. The restaurant suffered cracked windows, a torn-off air-conditioning unit and damaged trees. It’s closed until further notice.
B-Lan “April” Kao, who owns Royal China with her husband, Kai-Chi “George” Kao, says the center where the restaurant is located had two air conditioning units blown off the roof, but she didn’t know yet if either is attached to her restaurant. Otherwise, damage to Royal China appeared to be limited to some minor water leaks.
“As soon as the power goes back on, we’ll clean up and maybe even open,” she sats. “Our strip was lucky. Only Snap Kitchen had two panels of glass break.”
But the Kaos, who live nearby on Royal Lane, weren’t as fortunate with their home. Their garage collapsed under an oak that fell in their backyard, and the roof of their sunroom was torn off the house and blown into the middle of the street. “Every tree is damaged, it’s terrible,” Kao says. “We just cleaned up after June, and now this.”
Shockingly, some restaurants in the hardest-hit areas saw no damage at all. TJ’s Fresh Seafood, on the northeast corner of Preston Road and Royal Lane — and a mere 500 feet from Fish City Grill and My Family’s Pizza — saw no damage.
The storm path continued northeast and devastated some businesses north and east of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. MoMo Italian Kitchen, near Forest Lane and Greenville Avenue in Dallas, lost its sign, has no phone and suffered some damage to the building. Still, the restaurant will open at 11 a.m.
This story will be continually updated. Please email email@example.com if you know of restaurants that are closed due to tornado damage.
Dallas restaurants and food-friendly spots affected by the tornado
Royal China Restaurant at 6025 Royal Lane (at Preston Road) is without power. It will be closed until it can be restored, say its owners.
Eatzi’s at 6025 Royal Lane (at Preston Road) is without power. The gourmet grocery store is expected to be closed for two or three days, says CEO Adam Romo.
Omaha Steaks at 10854 Preston Road (at Royal Lane) is closed and without power. A team of people were removing products from the store on Monday so they could place them in a cold-storage facility.
Cantina Laredo at 6025 Royal Lane (at Preston Road) had minor damage. We’re collecting more information.
Einstein Bros. Bagels at 6011 Royal Lane (at Preston Road) is closed and the building has been damaged. Customers are encouraged to place catering orders elsewhere.
My Family’s Pizza at 10720 Preston Road (at Royal Lane) is closed and suffered significant damage.
Neighborhood Services Bar Room & Broiler at 10720 Preston Road (at Royal Lane) is closed until further notice. The restaurant was damaged.
Fish City Grill at 10720 Preston Road (at Royal Lane) suffered severe damage. It’s closed for now.
Celebrity Cafe & Bakery at 10720 Preston Road (at Royal Lane) will be closed for several weeks, says owner Brian Livingston.
Central Market at 10720 Preston Road (at Royal Lane) reports no serious injuries but will be closed for clean-up and repairs.
Princi Italia at 5959 Royal Lane (at Preston Road) has trees downed in front of it and remains closed while the power is out.
Spec’s Beer and Wine at 6025 Royal Lane (near Preston Road) is closed for now. A spokeswoman says they have not been allowed into the area yet.
Asian Mint at 11617 N. Central Expressway (at Forest Lane) did not suffer structural damage but has no power. It’s closed until the power returns. Staffers hid in a closet during the worst of the storm. No one was injured.
North Haven Gardens at 7700 Northhaven Road, a place where some chefs source herbs and vegetables for restaurant gardens, is closed while they assess storm damage.
Cindi’s New York Deli & Restaurant at 11111 N. Central Expressway (near Royal Lane) is closed because of a power outage.
Michalene Busico contributed to this story.