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Oak Harbor Little Caesars to reopen Monday following crash

By NATHAN WHALEN Whidbey News-Times Staff reporter
March 30, 2013 · Updated 3:20 PM
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Little Caesars manager Chad Annema and owner Mike De Wilde were working inside the pizza shop in February when a car drove into the space. The damage prompted Little Caesars to close for more than a month. It reopens Monday. / Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Thanks to a supportive community and good insurance, an Oak Harbor pizza shop reopens Monday, approximately one month after a car rammed through the store prompting an unexpected closure.

Oak Harbor’s Little Caesars, located in a strip mall between Safeway and Rite Aid, opens 11:30 a.m. Monday with a ribbon cutting and deals for pizza lovers.

Workers were busy this week renovating the restaurant.

They were installing new sale system, new ovens, counters and more to be ready in time for the grand re-opening.

“We have a lot going on,” said Mike De Wilde, owner of Little Caesars in Oak Harbor.

Workers had a lot to do after an elderly woman in February apparently got confused with the accelerator and brake pedals and crashed into the pizza place shortly before opening.

The car, a Ford Crown Victoria, crashed through the storefront’s glass, through the counters into the kitchen before coming to a rest at the freezers located near the rear of the business.

The ovens were on fire but were extinguished by an employee of a neighboring business.

Little Caesars has been closed since the accident to repair the damage.

In addition to the damage to the equipment and counters, the car also damaged a sink, which caused flooding in Little Caesars. The water also seeped into neighboring businesses.

Since the closure, large wood panels cover the windows and door that the car crashed through.

Once the initial shock wore off, De Wilde noted how Little Caesars prepared for such an emergency.

He estimates the damages at $60,000, which includes the wages of the dozen people who work for him.

“It would have been more catastrophic if we couldn’t pay our employees,” De Wilde said.

De Wild also credits the efforts of the contractor, who brought in dehumidifiers to help with the water, in making sure the repairs are complete in time.

He said the accident will provide for an upgrade in the pizza shop’s equipment, which will, in turn, allow staff to prepare pizzas faster and fresher.

Employees this weekend will start practicing preparing pizzas and give slices out to the community.

De Wilde said staff needs to familiarize itself with the new product, which is a deep, deep dish pizza.

Staff will offer slices until they run out. Little Caesars will be closed Easter Sunday, which traditionally isn’t a big pizza holiday.

A ribbon cutting is at 11:30 a.m., Monday, April 1.

To mark the reopening of the business, Little Caesars will offers specials through April 6.

 

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