East Side restaurant tries to recover from crash into kitchen

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – “Ms. Goodies” restaurant has been a steady presence at Bailey and Walden Avenues for 14 years but two weeks ago, her famous “junkyard dogs” were curbed by an SUV that slammed into the side of her building, and insurance seems to be an issue.

The August 23 incident severely damaged the kitchen at Ms. Goodies–a runaway Jeep Cherokee crashed into the side of owner Celena Hunley’s building, and the driver fled the scene.

Despite the misfortune, Hunley knows if the restaurant had been open at the time of the accident the outcome could have been a lot worse, “I just thank God that I was not here because I stand up there, and I probably would have been mangled in all of that.”

But the restaurant is Celena Hunley’s only source of income, it is literally what puts food on her table. Now there is no money coming in, and the SUV’s insurer is backing away because the Jeep’s owner told police the car was stolen–after the accident.

Hunley is suspicious, “We don’t know who was driving the car, but the keys were left in the car, and we could see them running, through the cameras,” Hunley referring to nearby security cameras.

Buffalo Common Councilman Richard Fontana is trying to help Hunley because her business is important to the neighborhood surrounding the Bailey and Walden Avenue intersection. Fontana also has his suspicions about the stolen vehicle claim.

“Very fishy situation here–the vehicle hit this building around midnight. The keys were in the vehicle, so someone obviously had the keys to drive the vehicle, drove the vehicle into this building, put her out of business, and then they claimed the vehicle was stolen after that.”

Fontana has been talking with Buffalo police investigators, and is calling on the Jeep’s owner and the insurance company to do what is right, “We want the vehicle’s insurance to pay for this damage, and for the people involved to step up, do the right thing, and hopefully then say the vehicle was not stolen because I don’t think it was.”

Until she can get back on her feet, Celena has a smaller kitchen at Ms. Goodies she is going to try to work from to help make ends meet.

“If we can open back up and use the kitchen in the back,” which Hunley said she only uses once a week, “for when we do dinners on Sundays.”

Celena Hunley is getting some help from the city to get her kitchen going again, but Fontana believes the City of Good Neighbors can come through for an East Side institution. The Lovejoy council member is asking anyone who can pitch in to call his office at City Hall. The number is 851-5151.

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