When Juan Jose Cavallo showed up Thursday for his first lunch at Father & Son's Smoke Til-U-Choke Bar-BQ, he thought the food might be so tasty that people were trying to break in to get it.
The front door was bent from its hinges, an iron gate ripped from the ground, a hole punched in the concrete wall and the bushes were toppled and nearly uprooted.
"Strange," said Cavallo, 21, as he tucked into a plate of ribs, chicken and collard greens.
Yet the damage to the restaurant at 2941 W. Sunrise Boulevard near Fort Lauderdale was not caused by a hungry customer, but a wrong-way driver who now faces five charges, including DUI and driving with a suspended license, according to Broward sheriff's deputies.
Jason Jagdeo Basdeo, 30, was heading west in the eastbound lanes of West Sunrise Boulevard at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday when his red Toyota jumped the median, veered across three lanes of traffic and plowed into the restaurant, authorities said.
When deputies arrived, Basdeo was standing beside his disabled vehicle, complaining of an abrasion on his left forearm caused by the inflation of the airbag, deputies said.
Basdeo failed a roadside sobriety test, officials said, then registered a .172 on a breath test, more than double the legal limit.
In first-appearance court Wednesday, Broward County Judge John "Jay" Hurley noted that in addition to having no driver's license, Basdeo had no insurance and three unpaid traffic tickets.
A public defender told Hurley that the Fort Lauderdale man was married, had a 1-year-old child and had lived in South Florida all his life. "Well, married, a 1-year-old child, and allegedly driving on the wrong side of the road around midnight," remarked Hurley. "OK."
The judge set bond at $3,500.
At the restaurant, owners Rosita and Reggie Cross estimated that repairing the damage to the restaurant they opened seven months ago would cost at least $3,000.
"I was devastated when I saw this," said Reggie Cross. "Business has been booming, and I wouldn't want anybody to think from the appearance that we're not open."
On Thursday afternoon, as chef Eddie Green tended slabs of pork ribs on the huge parking lot grill, the clouds of billowing barbecue smoke signaled that Father & Son's was definitely open.
"We are going to fight through this with the best home cooking around," said Cross, 47, a standout basketball player at South Plantation High School who was drafted by the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers in 1989. "Ribs, mac and cheese, coleslaw, baked beans, all homemade.
"Poeple love it so much they want to drive in even when we're closed."