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story.lead_photo.caption Showroom manager Jim Mays removes ceiling tile tracks inside the showroom at Missouri Furniture, which was heavily damaged in the May 22 tornado. Photo by Sally Ince / News Tribune.

Among other damage, the May 22 tornado left a path of warped fast-food menus and boarded-up drive-thru windows along the commercial area of Ellis Boulevard and Christy Drive in Jefferson City.

Some businesses shuttered in the storm's immediate aftermath have already reopened to customers, while others continue working to get to that point.


Sonic Drive-In at 314 Ellis Blvd. lost its trademark canopy, both of its drive-thru menu boards and all 24 of its carhop media housings.

"We were able to salvage parts off of some of them, but for the most part, they were all destroyed," General Manager Cody Evers said.

While construction crews awaited materials to rebuild the canopies and install electrical work for new menu boards, employees worked inside Wednesday to clean up the mess left by damaged ceilings and broken windows.

"Our goal is to have everything inside just set there ready to go, and that way when they finish up outside we're ready," Evers said.

Employees of the Ellis Boulevard restaurant have been able to work at Jefferson City's other two Sonic locations —1711 E. Elm St. and 201 Commerce Drive — during the temporary closure, he said.

Five employees sheltered in the restaurant's walk-in cooler during the tornado.

"I was here about 20 minutes after it happened, and it was pretty rough," Evers said.

All unharmed, right after the storm, they discovered the sticky evidence on the drive-thru window that the winds broke a window near the slush machine.

"That entire wall and ceiling grid was just blue from the blue coconut and blue raspberry pumps that broke," Evers said.

The Excel Sonic Group, which owns all three Sonic locations in Jefferson City, plans to reopen Sonic on Ellis Boulevard by July 1.

Break Time

Right next door to Sonic, the Break Time gas station and convenience store at 326 Ellis Blvd. barely missed a beat despite exterior tornado damage.

"Our Break Time store on Ellis Boulevard reopened for business within a couple of days after the tornado hit," Adam Buckallew, spokesman for MFA Oil, which owns Break Time, told the News Tribune in an emailed statement. "We've had to replace our fuel canopy and price sign, and only had to make some cosmetic repairs to the building.

"We were fortunate to avoid serious damage to the store and feel blessed that our employees and customers were safe."

Burger King

Another frequent fast-food stop whose business has been slowed by storm damage is Burger King at 1923 Christy Drive.

With marquee letters mangled, water damage inside and most windows still boarded, the restaurant's most serious damage was to rooftop air-conditioning units, said Michael Adams, vice president of operations for St. Louis-based Broadway Restaurant Group, which owns the Jefferson City franchise.

Employees at the Jefferson City restaurant have been able to work at other Broadway-owned restaurants in the area while Burger King is closed for repairs, Adams said.

The goal is to reopen Burger King within six weeks — around late July, he said.

Best Western

The Best Western Plus Capital Inn at 1937 Christy Drive looks roughly as it did before May 22 when viewed from the Burger King parking lot.

But boarded-up guest room windows still dot the hotel's south side — the direction from which the tornado blew into Jefferson City — as repairs are made inside.

With repairs progressing well, the Best Western has been open with limited availability and will reopen all of its rooms to guests soon, a manager at the Jefferson City hotel told the News Tribune last week.

Missouri Furniture

Farther south on U.S. 54, Missouri Furniture needs to restore its showroom, its roof and some HVAC equipment on top of it before reopening.

"I got here probably around 12:30 that night, and just heard ceiling tiles falling and then water gushing out," showroom manager Jim Mays said last week.

They worked the next morning to cover the inventory inside with plastic.

"There is quite a few pieces that we couldn't salvage, but for the most part, we did a good job of saving as much as we can," Mays said. "Until we get a new roof and all that put on, every time it rains, there are a few more pieces that end up getting hit."

Workers have been pulling up carpet, making ceiling repairs and preparing the building for electrical work.

Employees of the Jefferson City store have fanned out to work at other Missouri Furniture locations in Columbia and Camdenton and an affiliated Ashley HomeStore in Osage Beach.

Mays hopes the Jefferson City store can reopen to some extent within about three weeks — around early July.

Jefferson City Winsupply

On the north side of Ellis Boulevard, Jefferson City Winsupply's building and everything in it were a total loss.

Tucked off the main road at 1720 Four Seasons Drive, the wholesale plumbing equipment supplier will rebuild in the same location, Vice President Jim Mitchem said.

Winsupply has been working out of sister company Jefferson City Winair's office at 1001 Industrial Drive, with plans for a temporary setup at the Four Seasons Drive location in the works for next week.

"We've just been ordering inventory, and we're still taking orders," Mitchem said.

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