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Van crashes into restaurant



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A state-owned vehicle plowed into Zorba’s Pizzeria Tavern Thursday morning forcing the restaurant to close. Walter Bird Jr.. (click for larger version)
December 31, 2009
CHARLTON — A van veered off Route 20 and into Zorba's Pizzeria Tavern Thursday leaving the driver with minor injuries and the restaurant closed for a busy New Year's Eve.

The vehicle, a maroon panel van with state of Massachusetts license plates was traveling westbound, when it slammed into the dining room area at 11:53 a.m. of the restaurant at after the driver lost control of the vehicle "due to the snow," according to Fire Captain Ralph Harris Jr. The driver was transported to Harrington Memorial Hospital with minor injuries, he said. No one in the restaurant was injured.

The van's right front end punched through the wall facing Route 20.

"At this time, the building is structurally sound," Harris said.

Firefighters shut down the gas system after discovering the van had hit a propane-powered fireplace, Harris said.

The crash forced the restaurant to close, according to manager Bruce Shanbaum.

"Next thing you know there is a van sticking through the wall," Shanbaum said.

The manager said closing would hurt New Year's Eve business, during which he estimated serving 300 customers. The situation could have been worse. Shanbaum said two diners were in the process of being seated near where the vehicle hit. He also said the van started leaking gas into the building.

Waitress Dee Kenney was in the kitchen when the crash occurred and had planned to walk into the area where a couple was seated five booths away from where the van hit.

"I didn't, thank God," Kenney said as she stood outside in the snowy winter air after the crash. "It sounded like an explosion. I just ran."

Ryan Grannan-Doll can be reached by phone at (508) 909-4050, or by e-mail rgrand@stonebridgepress.com.

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