Florida Keys

‘We’re unsinkable’: Keys restaurant reopens just two days after truck barreled through

The Tundra sits in the dining room of the Overseas Pub and Grill Wednesday night.
The Tundra sits in the dining room of the Overseas Pub and Grill Wednesday night. Monroe County Sheriff’s Office

Just two days after a truck came barreling into the Overseas Pub and Grill in Marathon, the bar was open for business again Friday.

It took just a day to clean up mounds of debris left behind in the dining room by a Toyota Tundra driven by Lee Brown, 43, of Big Pine Key. Brown crashed his truck into the bar and restaurant at mile marker 49 Wednesday night and is reportedly in critical but stable condition in a Miami hospital.

“I hated to close for even just one day,” owner Tim O’Connell told the Keynoter Friday. “But even cars can’t knock us out of business. We’re unsinkable.”

No one was in the dining room and no one was hurt by the truck that came barreling through the roadside wall, and then another wall on the west side of the restaurant around 10 p.m..

O’Connell said just 20 minutes before Brown crashed his truck, two families were dining in the exact spot where the Tundra came plowing through — something he’s been thinking a lot about.

“Thank God no one was hurt,” he said.

A bartender who was working the outside bar Wednesday night told the Keynoter it sounded like a bomb went off and “everything happened so fast.” He and others were busy pulling chairs and bar stools out of the restaurant Thursday morning. Other workers were seen removing piles of wood and debris.

The Tundra was still in the bar Wednesday night, covered in debris and insulation as a broken water main splashed water onto the ground. The truck had been removed as of Thursday morning.

The dining room runs parallel to U.S. 1, while the main indoor bar sits in the center of the building. An outdoor bar sits on the backside of the property and there’s a new liquor store on the east end of the building.

For now, a game room in the restaurant will be converted into a dining area, O’Connell said. The two bars and the area surrounding them are in good shape, he said. The cleanup was fast.

“Everything worked really well and the [city] Building Department has been really good to us. It’ll probably take six months until we get it back up and normal,” he said of the large hole in the building. “We have to have an engineer go in and tell us how to rebuild it, but by the end of the next summer we ought to be in good shape.”

The Overseas Pub and Grill was reborn under the ownership of O’Connell, who bought the 7,800-square-foot place in 2013; before that, it had been closed for years. A new liquor store had its grand opening just a few weeks ago, but was not affected in the crash and was open Thursday night.

O’Connell and his wife Kathleen moved here in 2000 from Buffalo, N.Y., where they still have a trucking and transportation business. They transformed the Overseas from the dive bar that it was into the popular spot it is today.