On Sunday, the Mahoneys stared out at the oncoming storm from their restaurant a block from beach.
Bobby, Sandy, and their grown kids had no idea what about to hit them.
We last came to the Mahoneys restaurant a year ago when Hurricane Ivan came to town. The family stayed here then too— confident because this old place was rebuilt after the infamous Hurricane Camille back in 1969. That one, they thought at the time, was the worst one there ever could be.
The place made quite name for itself over the years as a parade of famous people came by. Author John Grisham ate here, and even made the place a back drop in his novel “The Runaway Jury.”
By the time Hurricane Ivan came along, Bob Mahoney Sr., the grandfather, was still around to see how well the old place held up. Of course nothing is permanent: Just last Saturday, the family buried Bob Sr. at a mausoleum not far from the diner, just up the Shoreline road.
And then on Sunday morning, they put off their grieving and waited.
It dawned on them finally how bad it was going to be when the whole world around them seemed to fly apart.
“I played football, and that’s what it felt like— five linebackers coming at you,” says Bobby.
On and off, one of them ventured out to the balcony as the storm surge swept across the parking lot. They took pictures of it… and then they began to wonder if they’d make it.
When water reached second floor, Bobby tried to hold the window shut. It didn’t work. A big surge came and hit the window, and Bobby got 3 inches of glass on one of his muscles. Sandy, a nurse, tried to make butterfly bandages using duct tape. “I had to hold pressure forever and we used we used up all the dishtowels we have in this house,” says Sandy.
They survived, though nothing around them escaped unscathed— not even the mausoleum where their grandfather had been buried the day before.
It’s astonishing what the sea will do. And they poked around in the mess, in the restaurant that’s sustained them all these years.
The clean-up has begun. They’ve taken to feeding some of the locals in the parking lot, and have started taking bets on how long it will take to open up again.
They have a sign on the wall of what used to be their diner that says "We'll be back."
“That is for real,” says Bobby.