2016-03-31 / Around Town

‘We’ll Come Back Better Than Ever’

By Olga Enger

The owners of Mama Leone’s say they are working around the clock after a 33-year-old driver smashed his car into their dining room.

“He’s lucky to be alive. Nobody was hurt, that’s the most important thing,” said Steve Reves, co-owner of the restaurant.

James Bell, an engineer at the Navy base, had been in Newport for about a week and said he was unfamiliar with the area when he crashed into the restaurant on Saturday, March 26, at around 1:30 a.m. Bell told police he was traveling around 60 mph and his brakes and clutch did not operate correctly. Although Bell admitted he had two drinks with dinner, he did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol, police said.

“We are so blessed that nobody got hurt,” said Reves. That night, staff left a mere 40 minutes before the accident.

“The place was a mess. Glass was in the kitchen,” said Reves. He estimates damage in the tens of thousands of dollars. Although they initially hoped to open within a week, Reves said that was a lofty goal.

Reves and his sisters, Paulina and Joanna, have owned the business for 20 years, after their parents first opened 40 years ago.

“When I got the call, I raced here. I was in shock, just seeing the magnitude of what happened,” Paulina Reves said.

Bell was cited for speeding and reckless driving.

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