NEWTON (CBS) – After a devastating crash, a popular West Newton pizza restaurant will be reopening this summer.
The WBZ I-Team has also learned protective barriers will be installed along the sidewalk before Sweet Tomatoes opens its doors to customers again.
In early March, a car slammed into the restaurant during the dinner rush, killing two customers and injuring seven other people.
On Friday, a positive sign of recovery hung on the building, announcing Sweet Tomatoes’ planned reopening.
“I’m ecstatic they are coming back,” said Sue Tresca, a Newton resident and longtime customer. “I was worried they might not reopen and that just broke my heart. This is important for everyone in the community.”
Following the crash, people could not help but notice the concrete barriers lining the sidewalk near the restaurant, and how they had stopped just short of the vehicle’s path.
The I-Team first looked at protective measures, known as bollards, and how they are meant to prevent storefront crashes in March. However, there is no state law in Massachusetts on where they are required to be installed.
Aaron Goldman, a spokesman with the City of Newton, confirmed there are plans to place bollards along the sidewalk prior to the restaurant reopening. He said the owners expressed a desire to add the protective measure, which the city was happy to accommodate.
“We’re doing everything we can to prevent another tragedy like that, but also so their staff and customers feel comfortable,” Goldman said.
Temporary barriers will be installed prior to the restaurant’s reopening, which could come as soon as July.
Ted Hess-Mahan, a West Newton city councilor, said elected leaders are trying to figure out the best permanent solution that will protect pedestrians and businesses in an area that is often clogged with vehicle and foot traffic.
Hess-Mahan pointed to some other recent close calls in the West Newton square. In 2014, a car slammed into the Cherry Tree Bar & Grille. Earlier that year, an SUV flipped in front of the movie theater.
“We want to make sure that whatever we put in is not only something that makes people feel safe, but that actually keeps people safe,” Hess-Mahan said. “What happened in March is certainly the kind of tragedy that we don’t want repeated.”
Lingering questions about the crash remain. The driver has not been criminally charged. A spokeswoman with the Middlesex District Attorney’s office said the investigation is still open and active.
“It is important to take the appropriate time to thoroughly examine all the facts, evidence and circumstances to reach a complete and accurate assessment of what happened,” spokeswoman Meghan Kelly wrote in an email to WBZ.
The I-Team was the first to uncover a report that illustrated the chaotic moments inside the restaurant following the crash. At one point, firefighters feared a natural gas explosion could be imminent.
Hess-Mahan said he gets questions from constituents on a daily basis.
“It’s obviously a matter of public interest that’s very important to people,” he said.