GREENE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A family-owned Region 8 business is closed after a car drove into the side of the building.
Karen Dowler of Dowler Family Restaurant in Hooker said she and her husband were fast asleep Friday morning when their son woke them to startling news.
"My son was fixing himself a late night snack," Dowler said. "He heard a loud noise, like a big truck going by. He came over to the restaurant and opened the door and he smelled gas. So, he shut the door and went over and woke my husband. It was around 1:30. He then came over here and turned on all the lights and looked around. Then he went around the side of the building and he was going to cut off the propane tank. He shined the flashlight and then saw the hole in the wall of the restaurant."
Dowler said their first thought was an explosion.
"Ray went back to the house and automatically called 911, and the Lafe Fire Department came out," Dowler said. "That's when we saw all this stuff that was sitting on the ground and we knew someone had run into the building."
Someone lost control of their vehicle on Highway 135 and went into the side of their building. They managed to get their vehicle free and drive away.
Dowler said she's thankful no one was hurt.
"I'm glad there wasn't anybody here," Dowler said. "My husband usually comes in about 4:30 in the morning. So, I'm really glad he wasn't here at the time that it happened."
Dowler said they discovered missing car parts left behind when the sun came up.
"Another police officer came out early the next day," Dowler said. "We went through the stuff and found some more parts off the vehicle."
Dowler said the damage to the restaurant is extensive.
"I've got three fryers down," Dowler said. "And I just bought a new stove in January and it's gone. I've got two freezers that are ruined. I've got tables that are destroyed, dishes that are destroyed and my ceiling and vent hood is all gone."
Dowler said they are in a holding pattern and are waiting on the insurance adjuster to assess the situation.
"My customers assured me they'd be back," Dowler said. "Hopefully, the insurance will compensate while we're down. So, that's helpful."
Dowler said they hope to be back open and ready for customers by the end of the month.
"If I can get everything up and going," Dowler said. "Hope to have it done by the end of the month and at least the first of next month. I'm keeping my fingers crossed."
Dowler said she and her family have run the restaurant for 14 years.
This incident is under investigation by the Greene County Sheriff's Department.
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