“This store has been in this city for more than twenty years and there was just no way that we weren’t going to bring it back,” said April Hurst, marketing coach for Taco Bell.
The store reopened its doors at 10 a.m. after Ringgold mayor Joe Barger and Ringgold High School principal Sharon Vaughn joined together to cut the store’s ribbon and welcome business back to the local eatery.
Ringgold High School was also presented with a donation of $5,000, as it too continues the rebuilding process.
“Many of our students eat here often. Some of them even work here after school,” Vaughn said. “It’s great to have this place back open and we’re very appreciative of their generosity.”
In addition to the ribbon-cutting and donation to Ringgold High, Taco Bell presented a special plaque to its assistant manager, Terry Bennett, who was the manager on duty when the store was struck by the tornado on Wednesday, April 27.
“When the tornado was headed this way, we had six employees working and a number of guests eating,” Hurst said. “Terry did a wonderful job of keeping his calm and helping everybody at the store make it through safely.”
While the building underwent the necessary renovations, upgrades were also made to the store’s interior design to keep pace with newer locations that have been erected in recent years.
The franchise’s new color scheme was also implemented.
“The inside looks great … a big change from the way it looked before,” said city councilman G. Larry Black.
Taco Bell is the first restaurant along Ga. 151 (Alabama Highway) to be rebuilt after more than half a dozen were incapacitated.
“It’s wonderful that they were able to get it rebuilt this quickly,” mayor Barger said. “It’s important to for the city. It’s a big step and we’re glad they’re back.”