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Monday, May 2, 2016

New owner finds restaurant re-opening to be a challenge

Friday, March 28, 2003

Rod Clarke works on the drainage system outside Eddie's Sandwich Shop. He hopes to reopen the Brazil landmark by the time school is out May 28.

Eddie's Sandwich Shop will reopen in the near future but the new owner is asking for a little patience from customers. New owner Rod Clarke had hoped to open in late March or April.

He and his wife, Elaine, purchased the business after it caught fire Jan. 25, and then-owner Marjorie Kocher did not want to continue with the business.

More repairs were necessary than Rod had originally anticipated so it will take a little longer before the grill can be heated and the doors opened.

To meet all of the state codes and fire regulations, Rod has to add a rest room. He discovered that the store's sink drained into the city storm sewer system rather than the sanitation system, so he had to tap into the sanitary sewer.

The available storm drain wasn't big enough to take all the water from the alley. The restaurant sets very low so even a moderate rainfall could cause the building to be flooded.

Rod put in a larger drain pipe and the city opened up an old storm drain next to the building that had been closed.

Still concerned that a heavy rain would flood the restaurant, Rod is going to raise the building about 6 inches. After all the fire-damaged materials were removed from the building, the remaining shell should be easy to lift, Clarke reasons.

Rod has had to remove everything in the interior of the store down to the 2-by-4s holding the exterior siding. He will have to replace a third of the roof. And after the rest room is added, Rod is going to replace all of the siding so it will match.

When it's all done, the only parts left from the original facility will be two-thirds of the roof, the framing structure, some shelving, the front window, the nine stools and counter top.

When Rod started tearing out the fire damage he discovered there were five layers of flooring that had to be pulled up. On the last floor he found a 1946 silver dollar, a small ad with both Nance's Creamery and Eddie's Hamburger Shop on one side and a 1948 Brazil High School basketball schedule on the back, a Champaign Velvet beer bottle cap and a 1953 Dairy Queen coupon.

Rod, also, found other items of interest from the past. A Coke bottle cap with a cork liner and a small Archie Comic Digest Magazine. A 1956 Brazil Times had been stuffed into a corner to block out cold air. The Times front page reported Robert Dixon received a commission of 1st Lieutenant. Cecil B. DeMilles's "The Unconquerables" was playing at the Cooper Theater on South Walnut Street. "Goodbye Columbus" was showing at the Corral Drive-in Theater in Seelyville. The Rotary Club had it's annual ladies night program with TV star Lucille La Chapelle as the guest speaker.

Rod said he might check to see if the Dairy Queen will still honor their coupon.

"The coupon says 100 percent cream," he laughed. "Things may have changed since 1953."

Besides the new rest room some changes to the original design will be outside seating for about 10, a walk-up window and a second door placed on the south side.

"A guy offered to give me some old pictures of him and other family members standing in front of Eddie's years ago." Rod said. "I'm going to try to go with that theme and decorate with some nostalgic memorabilia.

"A considerable amount of the structure had to change to meet all of the codes," Rod said. "But the menu will remain the same and we'll have the same Eddie's traditions. We hope to open by the end of school which is May 28. I'm thinking about having an Eddie's hamburger eating contest, but I've not decided yet."

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