The owners of a popular Italian restaurant today spoke of their delight at fully reopening after a drink-driver smashed his van into the building last summer.
Carmine’s on the city’s Union Terrace was left looking like a “bomb site” after the incident on July 25.
After months of being boarded up and a lengthy repairs process, owners Carmine, 79, and Jessica Scarpellino, 73, are keen to get the word out they’re now fully back in business.
Earlier this month, Daniel Wood, 32, of Cavendish Street in Chichester, was fined £3,000 and banned from driving for just over a year-and-a-half at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.
Jessica said: “This has been absolutely horrendous for us.
“It has had a big impact on our business.
“It was completely smashed up. It was like a bomb site – glass was everywhere.
“The builders had to rebuild the whole of the front of the shop.
“That was 19 weeks we were boarded up and not able to trade.”
Jessica said the crash had cost them well into five figures.
“Carmine kept coming down and saying ‘We are open’ but who’s going to come in to a boarded-up restaurant?” she said.
“One day he was there from 8am until 6pm and he came back with £5 in his pocket.
“We have lost one hell of a lot of trade in that time.
“The shop wasn’t actually completely finished until January 17.
“Financially I would say it’s cost us about £17,000-£18,000 worth of trade, and that’s just a minimum.
“Luckily I had a lot of orders myself for things like wedding cakes that I do at home.
“In the meantime, I’m in overdraft, my credit card’s maxed out and I’m trying to keep my head above water.
“It really has hurt us badly.”
But now the work is complete – and the pair, who live in Midstocket, are over the moon.
Jessica added: “I’m hoping now we are fully open again we can let people know Carmine’s is back.
“A lot of people thought we had closed when they saw the boarding up.
“Things are starting to pick up and we’re letting our customers know we’re back up and fully running again.
“Carmine is 79 years old and his shop is his life.
“We just feel his life’s been taken away from him for all these months. Since the work was finished I see a different Carmine. He gets up in the morning with a smile on his face.”
Wood pled guilty at Aberdeen Sheriff Court to drink-driving as well as dangerous driving and failing to stop.
Defence agent Mike Monro said: “He was working up in Aberdeen as a contract decorator in a city centre premises.
“The irony is he had driven the vehicle into town and parked it up where he was working so if he was over the limit the next day he wouldn’t have to drive the van. The next thing is he goes out to town with his mates. He accepts he consumed alcohol.
“For reasons no-one could understand, he then went back to the vehicle and drove it. He loses control of the vehicle and ploughs into the Italian restaurant.”