The nastiest of the 15 Memorial Day tornadoes that assaulted the Dayton area trashed the roof of Joe Castellano's historic restaurant, blew out its windows and damaged an exterior wall.
On June 12, the restaurant reopened for the first time since the tornadoes hit.
Debris and glass were covering the floor when Castellano arrived at the Amber Rose European Restaurant at 1400 Valley St. the morning after the storms.
Castellano said he thought the damage to his restaurant was pretty bad when he first saw it that Tuesday. But his perspective changed a bit later that evening.
“I headed home, and I drove down Troy Street and I saw what happened over there,” Castellano said. “At that point, I felt pretty fortunate that we still had a building, that we still had a business. A lot of those businesses and people’s homes were just wiped out. So I felt lucky.”
Photos of the destruction from the tornadoes only tell part of the story, Castellano said.
“All these people were home (when the tornado hit),” he said.
The tornado carved its way through the neighborhood. It ebbed between EF-3 and EF-4 as it traveled from Brookville to Trotwood, to Harrison Twp. to Dayton and then on to Riverside.
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AMBER ROSE REOPENING
Credit: Amelia Robinson
Credit: Amelia Robinson
The restaurant greeted customers for dinner Wednesday evening.
“We are going to reopen the dining room,” he said. “The building is structurally sound.”
The hours will be 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday
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Castellano said lunch service will resume Tuesday, June 18.
The restaurant will not be open Mondays for the time being to allow for continued repairs.
“It will feel real good just to get back to a sense of normal,” Castellano said. “And for our employees, too, to get them back on a routine and a schedule. Just psychologically it will feel better.”
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He said the outpouring of support from the community has been greatly appreciated. Amber Rose has been flooded with phone calls from well-wishers.
Hundreds if not thousands of volunteers have descended on the neighborhood since the storms, Castellano said, adding that many cleaned yards and removed fallen trees.
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“The neighborhood just looks so much better just in two weeks,” he said. “Just psychologically, it just makes everybody feel so much better.”
Castellano said he also appreciates the support of out-of-state utility workers.
“They were from Missouri and Tennessee and Kentucky,” he said. “They just came up and worked 16 hour days until it was done.”
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WHAT ABOUT CHICKEE?
Built in 1910 by Sigmund Ksiezopolski, the building held a general store and deli named Sig's up until the 1980s.
Elinor Sluzas bought the building in 1989 and opened her restaurant in 1990.
In its time, the Amber Rose’s building has withstood the 1913 Flood and a fire in 1989 right before what is now the Amber Rose was set to open.
“Who knows why the building is still here,” Castellano said. “And now the tornado came through here and it withstood that.”
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According to legend, it is haunted by the ghost of Genevieve "Chickee" Ksiezopolski, Sigmund Ksiezopolski's daughter, who died in 1983.
Castellano said he expects a group of paranormal investigators who have worked with the restaurant in the past to soon stop by to see if “Chickee and her friends are still here.”
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