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Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 8/2/2014 - Updated: 1 month ago

TONY PACKO’S TO REOPEN TODAY AFTER CRASH KILLS MAN

Tractor-trailer cab embedded in front of business

BY BRIAN BUCKEY AND STEPHEN GRUBER-MILLER
BLADE STAFF WRITERS
Toledo police examine a tractor-trailer after it crashed into the Tony Packo’s restaurant. Toledo police examine a tractor-trailer after it crashed into the Tony Packo’s restaurant.
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The Tony Packo’s at Consaul and Front streets is expected to be open for business today, following a crash Friday that killed the driver of a tractor-trailer cab when he smashed into the East Toledo landmark.

A health inspector has cleared the building to open, and the building inspector will make a final assessment about 8-9 a.m. today after doing an electrical and safety inspection, which the restaurant will likely pass, company officials said Friday evening.

Witness describes Tony Packo's crash from THE BLADE on Vimeo.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view slideshow.

A temporary enclosure has also been put up around the damaged storefront, to prop up the walls and close off the hole created by the crash. Most of the damage appeared to be in the restaurant’s bar area.

“It’s not necessarily going to be pretty, but it’ll be safe,” said Scott Radel, vice president for operations and human resources at Bennett Management Corp., which owns Tony Packo’s.

Toledo fire Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld said the initial damage estimate for the building was about $25,000 to $30,000, although he expected that amount to rise as additional damage is discovered.

“Once the rehab crew goes in there, there very well could be damage that wasn’t visible at the beginning of the incident,” Lieutenant Hertzfeld said.

Crews remove the tractor-trailer. Crews remove the tractor-trailer.
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As for the iconic Tony Packo’s buns and other memorabilia that decorate the restaurant’s walls, Mr. Radel said that fortunately none were damaged.

Earlier Friday afternoon, crews removed the tractor-trailer cab from inside the restaurant, nearly eight hours after its driver died when he smashed into the East Toledo landmark building.

Jim Schlievert, an accident reconstructionist with the Toledo Police Department, said the motorist died at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, where he was taken after the 7:15 a.m. crash.

His name has not been released, but an autopsy is expected to be performed today.

The driver was heading east on Front Street when witnesses said he went through a green light and collided with the building. There were no signs of the driver applying the brakes before the collision. The truck went through the front and into the bar area of the restaurant.

No one was inside the building at the time of the crash. Firefighters had to extricate the driver from the truck, Lieutenant Hertzfeld said.

The building has been the home of Packo’s for more than 80 years. Tony Packo opened a sandwich and ice cream shop at Consaul and Genesee streets in the early 1930s, but soon after created a sausage-on-a-roll sandwich with a secret meat sauce in the early 1930s, which was the birth of the company’s famous Hungarian hot dog.

He moved the business into the Birmingham site at Consaul and Front streets in 1936.

“It’s special to our neighborhood,” said Jason Kendall, who lives on nearby Fremont Street. “It’s the one and only, the original thing.”

Packo’s employees directed customers to their downtown location Friday, Packo’s at the Park, for lunch.

Linda and Jeff Hillman of Boston came to Toledo a few days ago and were headed to the Front Street Packo’s location for lunch.

Mr. Hillman grew up in Toledo and last ate at the original Packo’s in 1985. Mrs. Hillman has never eaten at Tony Packo’s and said she was looking forward to seeing the signed hot dog buns on the wall. After learning of the crash, they decided to move on to Packo’s at the Park.

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com or 419-724-6082.



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