By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – What remains of Vanelli’s restaurant, heavily damaged by the April 28 tornado, is being demolished, perhaps making way for its return.
Owner voz Vanelli has said in several interviews he intends to rebuild, and repeated that message over the weekend on social media.
Vanelli said he was working with insurers to settle a few issues “but things are progressing.”
The restaurant, a popular Greek and Italian restaurant his father opened nearly four decades ago, has been the topic of much speculation as customers wonder about its eventual reopening.
“I understand that it is frustrating to lose something we all had an attachment to, but I am working my way back,” he said. “Think of it like this: ‘It is not wise to buy the new house before the old house is settled.’”
Vanelli has been encouraged by many of his customers, who hope for an opening sooner rather than later. But the details of his plans remain under wraps for now.
“The real story is that I don’t know exactly what resources will be available until all the insurance and other matters are settled and complete,” he said. “I will then be able to best assess what the future holds for Vanelli’s. I am personally committed to returning to the restaurant business in some form but that is all I can say for now, for sure.
“Once again I appreciate your patience and am humbled by your kindnesses and well-wishes.”
For several weeks, the restaurant’s website has polled customers about their favorite foods, whether it should serve breakfast, and where it should be rebuilt.
As of Tuesday afternoon, more than a third of the votes cast were for Vanelli to rebuild on its current site on North Gloster Street. Seventeen percent voted for the restaurant to reopen in the former Atlanta Bread Co. building on South Gloster, just south of Crosstown.
Meanwhile, as demolition of the restaurant continues, Vanelli has offered to donate its undamaged outdoor pavilion to the city.
In a memo to Mayor Jason Shelton and the City Council, chief operating officer Don Lewis said the pavilion, valued at more than $75,000, would be located at Veterans Park. Vanelli will hire a contractor to move the pavilion, which would be placed on a slab provided by the city. In addition, the city would pay $10,000 to help with the cost of relocating the pavilion.