Hardee's Restaurant Reopens Dining Room

January 17, 2007 -- Posted at 6:15 p.m. CST

NEWPORT, AR -- After four months of repairs and remodeling, the dining room of Hardee's restaurant in Newport is reopen.

"It's really a blessing to have something like this be reorganized," said Newport resident Mary K. Smith.

A truck driven by Gary Nicholson of Newport rammed into the restaurant killing two and injuring four others.  During this time the community has been healing.

"The community is doing pretty good trying to hold up and take it one day at a time," said Smith.

Seeing the restaurant again might bring up bad memories for some.  District Manager Patricia Toombs says that's to be expected.

"You can kind of tell that it's emotional for some people coming in," said Toombs.

After the accident, the drive-thru opened back up the next day but the inside needed some major repairs.

"It would have looked like really bad if it were pieced and nailed back together.  We really had to just change the whole thing," said Toombs.

Customers appreciate the change.

"It means a lot.  You won't ever forget what happened but it kind of changes the appearances," said Smith.

For now the spot of the accident remains bare of any memorial, but Toombs said something will be done.

"We're going to be doing something a little bit later.  We haven't really decided what is appropriate at this point," said Toombs.

Driver Gary Nicholson is currently serving a five year sentence for violation of probation.  The violation:  using drugs when doing so was strictly prohibited in the terms of his probation.

Nicholson will be back in a Newport courtroom on February 21st asking for a change of venue for his criminal trial.