It could be 3 to 5 weeks before a favorite Mexican restaurant in downtown Memphis can reopen, following a ceiling collapse Saturday.
The ceiling at Maciel’s Tortas and Tacos at 45 S. Main Street caved in while employees and customers were inside.
“We heard a really loud crunch, and everything went down,” said Manuel Martinez as he recalled that night.
Martinez and his wife Lisha own the restaurant.
“I got scared, to be honest with you. Not for me for the people around me,” said Martinez.
He said he ran to help a little boy and his mother. They were hospitalized following the collapse. A representative for the building owner says it’s their understanding the boy is going to be okay. He nor Martinez had more information about the mother and son.
“I wish I can talk to them and say that I’m sorry about what happened,” said Martinez.
“It’s a building that was built in 1915. It’s been well-maintained,” said attorney Mitchell Lansky. Lansky represents his mother who owns the building.
Lansky said code enforcement has been by the building, and it is structurally sound, but the ceiling inside Maciel’s was old. He said the owner plans to have an engineer check it out.
“I want to see if they can figure out why it fell. We don’t know. There’s no obvious signs,” said Lansky.
Expected to be closed for weeks, Martinez worried about how his staff, whom he considers family, will be affected.
“For me, it’s very hard to see that this happened because this is something that also supports other family, not just mine,” said Martinez.
A restaurant regular started a GoFundMe page to help Martinez and his wife reopen and make up for lost wages.
Martinez said they have seen an outpouring of support from other businesses and the community, from text messages and phone calls urging him to keep going to restaurants offering to give his employees some work in the meantime.
“So many people offered help, and that means a lot to us. That means there’s still people that cares about other people and that’s something that means a lot to us,” said Martinez.
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