WEST LIBERTY, Ky. (WYMT) - A little more than six months ago, a tornado destroyed most of downtown West Liberty.
On Sept. 13, a restaurant that has been around since 1958 opened its doors for the first time since the building was destroyed.
The pops of grease from frying tater tots and onion rings, along with the hum of the milk shake machine ring through the air of the Freezer Fresh restaurant on Prestonsburg Street.
Many said those sights, sounds and smells have been a part of their town for decades.
“People grew up with it, their children were raised here,” said Janet Franklin, the owner for the past 25 years.
Franklin said she and her husband were past the age of retirement, but they enjoyed running the business. She said she worked at the restaurant years before they owned it because the business opened back in the 1950s.
“It’s an iconic symbol for Morgan County and West Liberty,” said Morgan County Judge Executive Tim Conley.
When the Freezer Fresh was wiped away after the Mar. 2 tornado, Conley said everyone noticed.
“It hurt to drive through town to see the place not open and going and everything, I mean it was just sad,” said Jennifer Dennis who has worked there for the past 15 years.
Conley said when he was a coach he used to take his teams to Freezer Fresh for milk shakes after little league games.
“I doubt there's anybody in Morgan County or in West Liberty that grew up here who hasn't come here through time,” said Conley.
“Anywhere I have went they have asked me when are y'all opening up when are ya opening up? I say as soon as Janet gives us the go ahead we are opening up,” said Angie Adkins who has worked there for the past 3 years.
“I love it here, it’s a great job.”
Franklin said she and her husband wanted to bring the restaurant back for the people of Morgan County. She said they wanted to serve smiles to their community.
“It was just to bring a little joy back to this sad little town,” said Franklin.
Conley said it was a big hangout in Morgan County and everyone was sad to see it go away, but even happier to see it come back. Franklin said every employee who worked there before returned to work the day it opened.
“It’s wonderful, it makes me want to cry,” said Dennis.
“Everything's going back, well, it's back to normal here anyways.”
Dennis and Adkins are two of the 12 girls who run the place. Franklin said there are six during the day and six at night.
Conley said it was part of taking the community back to what was once an important reminder of what a small town is all about.
“What everybody longs for is that simple life, when you grew up as a child life,” said Conley.
“I don’t know of any other place you can get an ice cream cone that big for so cheap, it melts before you finish it.”
The restaurant is open year round and the owner says they love to see both old and new faces.