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Car crash closes Penn Township restaurant

| Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Dayna Rose of Penn Township, manager at Zackel's in Claridge, photographs the damaged exterior of the restaurant caused by a vehicle accident the night before on Monday, November 25, 2013.

A Penn Township restaurant is closed indefinitely for rebuilding after a car smashed into it early Monday morning, minutes into the driver's 24th birthday.

Employees of Smartie Artie's at Zackel's restaurant met with construction workers to survey the damage at the business along Main Street in Claridge on Monday afternoon. Repairs are expected to cost $100,000.

The crash left the building's brick wall gouged, stucco crumbled and glass broken. Long tire tracks lead to the site.

Police said a car driven by Robert Patterson Jr., 24, of Harrison City was headed east toward Claridge about 12:05 a.m. when the driver missed a curve, crossed the road, struck the building and landed back on the roadway. Police said he turned 24 on Monday.

Patterson, who was alone in the vehicle, sustained minor injuries, township police Chief John Otto said.

Arthur Sciullo said he has owned the restaurant for eight years. It was closed for the evening when the car crashed into it. No one was injured.

Otto said police expect to file charges in connection with the incident.

A phone number for Patterson is not listed.

Construction is set to begin this week. Workers from D. Borst Inc. of Murrysville plan to tear down the front of the building and reconstruct the restaurant, including the front entryway to the dining room and bar, he said.

Part of the building is 108 years old and housed a school and then a fire department before it was converted into a restaurant in the 1940s. The restaurant, which serves lunch and dinner, is known locally for its fish; a large sign boasts, “The world's best fish.”

Joe Sciullo, Arthur's son and a consultant to the restaurant, said he received a call about the crash about 12:45 a.m. Monday.

Customers showed up for lunch Monday asking, “What happened?” he said.

There's no estimate yet on when the restaurant will reopen. The closure comes during what's usually a busy week for restaurateurs.

“This is a big week for us,” Joe Sciullo said. “Everybody's out Wednesday, no one works Thursday (on Thanksgiving).”

Rossilynne Skena Culgan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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