UPDATE: Manzella's to reopen Friday after car crashed into it Thursday

UPDATE: Manzella's to reopen Friday after car crashed into it Thursday

CHAMPAIGN — Three Manzella siblings were grateful to be able to reopen their family restaurant Friday, 32 hours after an alleged drunken driver crashed through the window to their banquet room early Thursday.

"I'm absolutely amazed how quick these people are working," John Manzella said of cleanup workers from ServPro who were in his restaurant Thursday morning sweeping up glass and pieces of dining tables shattered hours earlier when a BMW barrelled through the front plate-glass window.

Champaign police Sgt. Tom Frost said Yoshio Cardona, 27, who listed an address in the 500 block of West Green Street, was driving north on First Street just after 3 a.m. when he crossed into the southbound lanes and left the road.

His 2000 BMW went across the sidewalk and struck a light pole, parking meter and small tree before crashing through the window of Manzella's Italian Patio, 115 S. First St.

Cardona was charged Thursday with misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol. He also received traffic tickets for improper lane usage and not having insurance.

However, State's Attorney Julia Rietz said her office confirmed with the Illinois Secretary of State that Cardona has valid insurance through the end of this month. The proof-of-insurance card he had with him in the car was outdated, she said.

Speaking with the help of a translator, Cardona told Judge John Kennedy that he wanted to hire his own attorney. Kennedy agreed to release him on his own recognizance and told him to be back in court with a lawyer Jan. 24.

Frost said a preliminary police report indicated that Cardano smelled of alcohol and had poor balance and coordination. He refused medical treatment and was booked into the county jail about 5:30 a.m. Thursday.

Manzella reckoned that the damage, as dramatic as it was, could have been worse if Cardona's car had not been slowed down by the street light, parking meter, tree and some planters.

"The street light ended up inside the restaurant," Manzella said.

Brothers and co-owners John and Joe Manzella and their sister, Mary Manzella Racz, who manages the restaurant, were all at the third-generation business surveying damage and juggling phone calls early Thursday.

By midday, the shards of glass and broken ceiling tiles and tables had been swept away, the building had been boarded up, the street light had been replaced and the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District had issued the green light for the restaurant to reopen.

The trunk of the tree that was broken off in the crash was in the parking lot on the north side of the building.

It was fortuitous that the crash happened when the restaurant was closed, since the car intruded well into the north banquet room. It stopped several yards short of the kitchen.

The Manzellas were there to watch as the badly damaged vehicle was pulled out by a tow truck about 8 a.m. after a structural engineer had proclaimed it safe to do so.

The car missed a support beam by inches but broke the window and several tables in what the family refers to as their overflow room. It also missed several video-gambling machines.

Tables remained neatly set on the south side of the iconic eating establishment, decorated with chianti bottles.

"If you walked in the back door, you would never know anything happened," John Manzella said.

The kitchen was unaffected, and since the business never lost power, the food supply was just fine, the siblings said.

The restaurant was started by their father, Frank Manzella, 59 years ago this month. They have been at the 115 S. First St. location since 1966, Racz said.

Joe Manzella had a glimmer of a recollection about a car hitting the rear of the building where the parking lot is years ago when their dad was alive. But nothing close to Thursday's calamity had ever happened at the restaurant before.

"It's definitely a shock waking up to a 3 a.m. phone call," said John Manzella, who relayed the news from police to his sister minutes later.

"This is not just our workplace. We grew up here and shared memories," she said. "It's our home away from home."

Manzella's will be open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, and will reopen for dinner at 5 p.m. It is also prepared to honor reservations that had been made.

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