• Woman drives car through Arboretum restaurant's kitchen

    By: Jeff Smith


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A popular south Charlotte restaurant will be closed for several days, after a woman drove her car through the kitchen Wednesday afternoon. 

    Witnesses said an elderly woman reversed her car out of a parking spot, then put the car in drive and pressed hard on the accelerator, speeding directly into Portofino's kitchen in the Arboretum Shopping Center.

    "It was like boom! Break all the glass. There was glass everywhere. We just run away," said Portofino's owner Raphael Coppola.

    Coppola was just inches from the car when it smashed through the glass window. The car narrowly avoided the half-dozen staff members inside. Fortunately, no one at the time was eating dinner on the outdoor patio area.

    "A lot of people could have gotten hurt," said waitress Melissa Price. "We heard all of the glass breaking, and the shards coming down, and it was scary, really scary."

    Employees said the difference between life and death was this iron rod at the base of the kitchen window that kept the car from continuing deeper into the restaurant.

    "Thank goodness there was nobody sitting there eating dinner. It was the right time, and nobody got hurt," said Barbie Weiner, the owner of the neighboring wine shop.

    Portofino's will be closed for several days. They'll lose thousands of dollars in business, but managers said they're just happy no one was hurt.

    Witnesses said the driver was transported to the hospital, but police haven't yet released her name.

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