Three Months After Devastating Crash, Future Of King’s Uncertain
It has been three months since an errant commercial truck driver barreled into the popular King’s eatery at 271 South Main Street around 1 am, Wednesday, October 21. But the collapsed building that was thrust a foot and a half off its foundation still sits, appearing untouched and surrounded with caution tape, as it did the morning after the crash.
While there have been reports that the building’s owner may be trying to relocate and rebuild on the same lot near Plaza South and the Sand Hill shopping center, several local officials contacted about the status of any developments are still in the dark.
Nonetheless, Building Inspector John Poeltl, Land Use Director George Benson, and Health District Director Donna Culbert all vowed to assist its owners, Nick Pirraglia and his son, Daniel, if they can, whether the business rebuilds or relocates — even if it relocates a matter of a few feet from the precarious roadside proximity that has attracted more than its share of vehicular hits and near misses.
While the Pirraglias have operated the business since acquiring it in April 2012, land records show it is owned by King’s Properties, LLC. Nick Pirraglia previously operated a pizzeria in the Bronx borough of New York, and more recently Nick’s Corner Market in Armonk.
The latest incident, which forced the restaurant to close due to the extent of the damage, occurred, police said, when Jorge Delgado-Cardenas, operating a 1997 Kenworth T-800, went off the roadway while traveling north just past the Button Shop Road traffic signal, and careened into the front dining area, knocking the structure off its footings.
Poeltl told The Newtown Bee at the time that the original part of the restaurant, “from the door toward the street” was “pretty much destroyed” by the collision.
'It Broke Away'
“That part of the building didn’t really have much of a foundation,” Poeltl said, “so it broke away from the newer addition, which had a foundation.”
According to records, the original portion of the building dates from 1785.
This was at least the third vehicle vs building crash at the location in less than two years. In September 2019, a Freightliner filled with trash and building materials, also traveling north on South Main Street, narrowly missed crashing into the western portion of the building during the height of a lunch hour.
The driver in that incident was transported to the hospital. The debris in the truck spilled onto the property and along a stretch of South Main Street.
In March 2019, a 2002 Acura MDX that had swerved to avoid hitting another vehicle crashed through a wall and partially entered the structure, startling but not hitting anyone inside.
This week, Poeltl said he was in touch with the owners and they shared that they are still dealing with insurance companies that are involved in damage claims.
While the building inspector said there may have been some added minor collapsing of the structure since the incident, he was becoming more concerned about the aesthetic appearance. Passersby have been seen slowing to stare at the destruction, and more recently, local social network posts have appeared wondering why it was taking so long for something to be done.
Poeltl pointed out that following the macroburst that destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes in town in May of 2018, some property owners did not see any action from insurance claims for almost a year, so he was not surprised little or nothing had been done to demolish the property or begin determining its future after just three months.
“Sometimes these things can take a lot longer to work out,” he said.
Benson, whose office would also be closely involved once a relocation or renovation was planned, said, “Land Use staff have been in preliminary discussions with the owner, but nothing specific has been proposed as of this date. It appears that they are planning to rebuild, but again no timetable that I know of.”
Culbert said from the Health District’s perspective, “We are waiting to see what the owner wants to do, and we will review a plan once it is submitted.”
The health official said she and her staff stand ready to “participate in a planning meeting — called a pre-application meeting, usually facilitated by Land Use — if the owner wants to have one.
Culbert admitted that it is probably not appropriate or a good use of time to address the deficiencies of the building while its damaged, closed, and not accessible.
“As always, we want to work with our establishments to help them be safe and successful,” Culbert said. “Right now, for us, the ball is in their court.”
The many regular and casual patrons of King’s not only enjoyed the rustic ambience of the restaurant, but the hundreds of colorful koi fish that dwelled in a small pond between the roadway and the decimated front dining area.
Following the October 2020 crash, Botsford Fire Chief Andrew White assured The Newtown Bee that all the fish survived the crash. The fish have apparently since been relocated to safer waters.