Taylor’s Maid-Rite recovering from tornado

T-R PHOTOS BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ - Left: Taylor’s Maid-Rite, which has been located in downtown Marshalltown since 1928, endured minimal damage. Its staff took shelter in the downstairs meat cooler. Immediately after, they prepared 17 dozen sandwiches to give to the hospital and fire department. The iconic “Taylor’s” sign also suffered the effects of the storm. Right: Despite having boarded up windows, Taylor’s Maid-Rite is open for business, as of Tuesday afternoon, serving its signature loose meat sandwiches. Waitress Jessica Trickey, left, was inside the eatery when the tornado hit. Assistant Manager Nancy Hulsizer, right, said the staff is eager the place is back up and running.

It could have been worse.

This is the sentiment expressed by Sandy Taylor Short, whose family has owned Taylor’s Maid-Rite, 106 S. 3rd Ave, for 90 years.

“We were very fortunate to have minimal damage,” she said. “We lost two large plate glass windows, a smaller one and glass on the front door, plus our sign. Also, the large sign on the post is at an angle.”

Short was out of town when the tornado hit, but five members of her staff were inside the eatery, including waitress Jessica Trickey.

“I saw, right by the courthouse, the tornado touching down, and I saw the top of the courthouse start to crumble, so at that point, I was yelling at everyone to get down, and go hide,” she said.

The group went downstairs and locked themselves in the meat cooler. The lights began to flicker, and the whole building shook.

“We thought that the bricks were going to come down, and then the lights went off, but luckily they went back on, because we’re on the backup generator of the hospital, but then a few minutes later, the lights started flickering and everything was out, so we knew the hospital was down as well,” Trickey said.

Wanting to help feed the folks affected by the storm — and not have their inventory go to waste — the staff immediately went to work. Short arrived back at the restaurant, and the group prepared 17 dozen sandwiches before the gas was turned off. They used the remaining meat and pre-made buns.

“We call it ‘doping the buns’ ahead of time, putting mustard and pickle on them,” Short added.

The sandwiches were then taken to the hospital and fire station.

“After the tornado, we put everything from the meat cooler into the freezer to keep it good a little while longer. We had 150 pounds of ground hamburger, which we were able to give to the Salvation Army and Quakerdale, and donated our buns — 105 dozen — and milk too, to various places,” Short said. “The only thing we had to throw away was our ice cream mix, so I feel very fortunate that people could use what we had.”

The restaurant remained closed until Tuesday afternoon.

“Our first priority was to get up and running to take care of our customers. The structure of the building is good, so we’ll worry about the glass and the sign later,” assistant manager Nancy Hulsizer said.

Short said in all the years her family has operated the business, she could not think of a more damaging storm.

Short and her late husband Con took over operations from son Don approximately 15 years ago. Taylor’s Maid-Rite began in 1928 when Short’s grandfather Cliff Taylor purchased the Marshalltown franchise for $300 from Maid-Rite inventor Fred Angell. The eatery had originally been located across the street, at 105 S. 3rd Ave, before it moved to its current locale in 1958.

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com