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Two days after a speeding boat turned a waterfront restaurant into a drive-thru, the boat has been removed from the damaged building and employees are hoping they will soon be back to work.

A large crane lifted the 39-foot SeaVee out of the Sunset Grill this morning. Crews had spent all day yesterday evaluating the stability of the structure after the craft plowed up the small beach and slammed into the building Monday.

"It was crazy," offered executive chef Will Rinaldi, who was inside at the time. "Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the boat. It looked like it was moving at a pretty fast pace. It came in, went up on the beach, hit the boardwalk, went right through the window."

The driver of the boat, Matt Santiago, was cited with reckless operation. The 31-year-old was one of seven people onboard, but no one was seriously injured in the crash.

Rinaldi lauded the response from bystanders and emergency crews, but also said there was a little luck involved.

"Two feet to the right, it would have been right on top of a table," he recalled. "Two feet to the left, he would have been in the lobby going through the front door."

The four-engine boat showed little obvious signs of damage as it was towed from the scene Wednesday, other than a scuff on the bow. The building itself proved to be in better shape than some had feared as well.

Now, with the boat gone, the restaurant is hoping to be able to restore power to the building and reopen as soon as Friday.

"We just want to invite everybody out and have a really great time," Rinaldi added.




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