Popular St. Johns Co. restaurant bulldozed after Hurricane Matthew destruction

The Mantanzas Innlet Restaurant was destroyed during Hurricane Matthew

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - A popular restaurant in St. Johns County has been bulldozed following damage from Hurricane Matthew.

The Matanzas Innlet Restaurant was bulldozed this week.

Joan Galasso, the owner of the restaurant, walked through the cleared-off property Thursday.

"It's very sad," she said.

She owned it with her husband for 25 years.

"The first day we started tearing everything down, I was in tears," she said.

The Matanzas Innlet Restaurant, which is known for Joan's key lime pie, datil pepper sauce, live music, and sunsets, was right on the inlet. It was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Matthew.

"As we walked inside and saw how much structural damage, we were devastated," she recalled.

For ten months, the building sat, crumbled and closed, as they waited for word from insurance companies.
"The longer it sat, the damage kept getting worse," Galasso said.

The Galasso's made the decision to bulldoze it down this week.

"It was beyond repair,” she said. “There was so much damage that St. Johns County deemed it over the 50 percent of the value.”

Nine months later, she is still fighting insurance companies.

In the rubble, you can still find remnants of the restaurant, such as wrappers from Premium Saltine crackers, ink pens and customer tabs, which still say "Thank you. Please come again."

"In fact, there was still silverware here yesterday," she said.

Galasso said they don't know what to do with the land yet.

"We're still in limbo,” she said. “We've discussed plans with a couple contractors about building a new place.”

Right now, she still laughs at fond memories here, and she said she has to move forward.

"Part of it is having faith everything will work out,” she said. “You just have to have that kind of faith in life. Things get thrown at you. Everything doesn't go according to plan.”

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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