Local News

Rocky Mount Restaurant: A Post-Fran Success Story

Posted September 9, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Many North Carolinians have Hurricane Fran stories -- stories both tragic and humorousabout rebuilding after the storm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photographer:Gil Hollingsworth