For nearly two months, a large portion of the Surf and Turf Lodge in Bessemer City has been closed off.
That portion had to be rebuilt after police say Roger Self intentionally drove his car into the restaurant back in May, killing two and injuring several others.
Self's daughter, Katelyn Self, and daughter-in-law, Amanda Self, were both killed. Roger Self's wife and son were also both severely injured.
On Friday, the owner opened up the rebuilt portion of the restaurant to customers, but it looks much different.
“Walking back here day after day is one of the hardest things any of us have had to do,” said owner Melissa, who asked that her last name not be used. “Standing in this room that was, just eight short weeks ago, literally in shambles - and now to see it this way. Beautiful and peaceful.”
Most everything inside is new, and there is a painting on the window that is a memorial to those lost.
The painting is a living tree with two doves sitting on the branches to represent Katelyn and Amanda. The artist says the painting took 15 hours over two days to complete.
“People get it, when they look at it, they know exactly the purpose of that window,” said Melissa.
Crews will spend Saturday morning placing steel poles in the ground in front of the building to make sure no vehicles can slam into it again.
“The hard part is accepting that the old normal is gone,” said Melissa.
Brandon Wilson was working at Surf and Turf the day the tragedy happened.
“I would describe it as my life froze, you know what I mean? Everything changed after that,” said Wilson. “It is something you see in movies or something. You don’t actually think everyone is going to come together to help everyone out."
Customers flocked to the restaurant Friday evening. Most patrons understood what had happened at the restaurant.
“We just wanted to come here and support the people who own the restaurant," said Bessemer City resident Richard Meadows.
Melissa says the restaurant is open and operating on normal business hours and is once again taking reservations.
“It is about taking what is left and doing your best to make something beautiful out of it,” said Melissa.
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