Zesto plans to re-open: Restaurant saw up to 5 feet of water

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 19, 2016

Ralph Pierce, one of the owners of Zesto, the popular hamburger and ice cream stand, said last week’s flood wasn’t the first flood his restaurant’s been through.

The drive-thru is at the corner of Richmond and Fiorenza streets, not far from the Bogue Lusa Creek which, last Friday, rose out of its banks and flooded Pierce’s restaurant.

Pierce said the water came quickly. At 6 a.m., the water was in the parking lot. A half-hour later, he said there was five or six inches of water inside. By 7 a.m., he said there was two feet of water inside the building, and it kept climbing.

Eventually the water would crest at five feet inside the restaurant, covering the grills and getting into the refrigerators and the ice cream machine.

A week later, Pierce has driven a screw in the wall to mark the spot where the water crested. How high the water got, that’s known. But Pierce said there’s still plenty he doesn’t know — including the extent of the damages.

“I ain’t even started trying to estimate damages,” he said. “We got some stuff started, but we’re trying to dry off some stuff with a dehumidifier.”

One of those items is his ice cream machine.

“That’s a high-dollar piece of equipment,” he said. “We won’t know if it works until next Wednesday.”

The restaurant will be shut for another week at least. Pierce said he hopes to open up the week after Good Friday, but that will depend on health inspectors.

“We’re going to get back open as quick as we can,” he said.

But however long it takes, Pierce said he’s not giving up on the location or the restaurant.

“We’ve been flooded five times,” he said. “We’ve been here 50 years in July, and we’ve been flooded five times and three automobiles hit us. We don’t get 100-year floods. We get 10-year floods.”