There won’t be any quick reopening at Louie’s Coney Island.
The Kokomo eatery, in the same family since 1937, was destroyed by the Nov. 17 tornado. From the outside, it doesn’t look as bad as some nearby Hoffer Street businesses, but a closer look shows the exterior walls are bowed. Walk inside, and the roof is missing, the heating and cooling ducts hanging from the trusses.
“The first week after it happened, I couldn’t speak. I was in a state of shock,” owner Toula Volikas-Linville said. “And it’s not just me. All of these business and homes were destroyed.”
Louie’s will be rebuilt, on the same spot, thanks to insurance.
“We’re not going for bigger, we’re going for better,” said co-owner Chris Linville, Volikas-Linville’s husband.
But it will take up to six months to reopen. In the meantime, Louie’s employees will have to get by taking other jobs and hoping Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s federal disaster assistance request meets with Federal Emergency Management Agency approval.
City officials have estimated the storms caused $22 million in commercial property loss, a figure which doesn’t take into account lost wages and productivity.
It’s a big hit for a town of 57,000, which has yet to recover many of the jobs lost when the towns two biggest employers, Delphi and Chrysler, went through bankruptcy in the past decade.
“We’re still in economic recovery from the recession, and unemployment here is still high,” city director of development Steve Whikehart said. “And we’re still recovering from the April flooding.”
Lisa Hill, a local Farmer’s Insurance agent, said all of her clients that suffered tornado losses were back in their homes within a week. But her business on Hoffer Street was destroyed.