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Rocky Mount Restaurant: A Post-Fran Success Story

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ROCKY MOUNT — Many North Carolinians have Hurricane Franstories -- stories both tragic and humorousabout rebuilding after thestorm.

For the oldest barbecue restaurant in North Carolina, it's been athe past year has meant drying out and not giving up.

Melton's Barbecue, a Rocky Mount landmark, was terribly flooded byHurricane Fran, but has bounced back quite well, thank you.

After eight months, it was back to business as usual, but it was along, hard road back.

For more than seven decades, Melton's has been serving upeastern North Carolina barbecue to all comers, and there have been plentyof them, in Rocky Mount. Business is better than ever now, which makes iteven harder to believe that just a year ago, the dining room was part ofthe Tar River.

Hurricane Fran left her mark on the eatery, in the very vibible form ofa plaque marking the high water mark on the restaurant's wall. Melton saysthe water stayed in the restaurant for 5 days.

For the most part, people couldn't even get to Melton's unless they hada boat. Melton says, in addition to the amount of water, the power of thewater contributed to damage.

Despite the devastation, employees were again serving take-out barbecuewithin 10 days after the storm. It took nearly eight months to get therestaurant back in shape. Melton says he owes a lot to his employees forhelping him reopen.

Bob Melton's Restaurant will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 1999.The restaurant still sits on its original foundation.

Photographer:GilHollingsworth

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