SOUTH HAVEN — Ever since MDOT constructed a roundabout on M-43 Highway, Maple Grove Grill and Bar owner Todd Capps has dreaded the day a vehicle would careen over the roundabout’s traffic island and smack into his family-run restaurant.
That day came Sunday, when a car smashed into the side of the eatery, located at the intersection of M-43 Highway and 72nd Street.
The restaurant had just closed shortly before the accident occurred at 10:15 p.m.
“We normally close at 9:30 p.m.,” Capps said. “But we had a full house. We had eaters here until 10 p.m.”
Shortly after closing for the evening, Capps and his staff began the nightly task of cleaning up the bar area and restaurant.
“I was in the kitchen cleaning dishes when it happened,” Capps said. He didn’t see the accident but he definitely heard it.
“He crashed through the restaurant right behind the wall of my kitchen,” Capps said.
The wall was lined with plates and pans, which rained down on Capps.
“Two pans hit me in the head. Plates fell and smashed on the floor,” he said.
Neither Capps nor his employees suffered injuries, but the man whose car slammed into the building did. He had to be extricated from his four-door sedan, according to a news release from South Haven Area Emergency Services, and was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.
The man, whose name has yet been released, was traveling west on M-43 when his car came up on the traffic circle.
After striking the cement traffic island in the middle of the roundabout, the car hit and destroyed a yield sign, causing the car to go airborne, where it then crashed into the restaurant wall.
“There were no tracks on the grass,” said Capps.
Capps began assessing the damage on Monday morning.
“The vehicle broke the bottom of the chimney and buckled the wall,” he said. “The chimney’s going to have to come down.”
The bright blue building, considered a landmark along M-43 between Bangor and South Haven, was built in the 1930s, according to Capps. His family opened the restaurant in 1980 and has operated it ever since.
Its burgers, smoked chicken, soups and sandwiches are a hit with locals and visitors alike, as are the “The Grove’s” fall and winter Euchre tournaments.
Just when the restaurant will reopen has yet to be determined.
“I really can’t say at this point,” said Capps, who estimated the damage at “thousands of dollars.”
Monday he was consulting with his insurance company to get estimates.
Despite having to temporarily close the restaurant, Capps remains upbeat.
“Of all the places the car hit it was the best place it could have,” said Capps, explaining that the room is used primarily as a storage area for cleaning supplies, and that luckily, no one was in the room at the time.
“It is what it is,” Capps said. “I’m glad the driver’s alive. I’m glad that none of us were injured.”
This isn’t the first time a car has hit the restaurant, which is located close to the roadway – and now even closer since the roundabout was built.
In 1986, years before the roundabout was constructed, a driver smashed into the front portion of the restaurant. Several years after the roundabout was put in place, a car ruined one of Maple Grove’s outdoor smokers.