LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) – The sign drew your attention from the road despite – or perhaps because of – its decrepit appearance. The words “Frida’s Cafe & Bakery” were crooked and the LED lights were turned off.
“It’s scary to think about,” Alex Mencarini said. “It might have been when the customers were here, someone was here.”
According to Largo police, resident Garry McCue drove his car the wrong way on Ulmerton Road and crashed into the large sign. He was charged with driving while intoxicated and with a suspended license.
“I was amazed. It felt fake,” said Mencarini. “Seeing that sign every day, you don’t think something like this could happen. It’s madness.”
Thankfully, the crash happened late Thursday night, long after most people had disappeared.
“It speaks for itself,” Mencarini said. “Really, honestly.”
Makes. Barista Alex Mencarini got his first look Friday at noon. What he saw was a torn board with metal bent out of shape and computer parts scattered on the ground. The car left several pieces of glass and part of a light on the grass, as well as what appeared to be skid marks.
“He paid them. Very speechless,” Mencarini said. “I got my phone out right away. It was just — I have to take a picture of it while it’s still — it was crazy. Very crazy.”
But Sunday night, 8 On Your Side was there as a crane lifted the sign and a man hoisted it into shape, sparks flying against the sunset of the Largo sky. The – effectively – sheer weight of the paper bent back into shape, now becoming a mark. Still no LED though. It will likely be months before a new sign takes its place.
This weekend, the Largo community came for the popular restaurant.
“It was packed,” Mencarini said. “No space available. The community was just right – everyone was just showing love, coming in, supporting us.”
Even Frida herself made the best of a difficult situation.
“She was like, ‘Yeah, you should go make a TikTok, get rid of it, do something good,'” Mencarini recalls. “I was like, ‘Yeah, great, glad you feel that way. It’s very refreshing to hear.’”
Frida’s Cafe & Bakery is still fully open and operational with normal business hours. They close early on Christmas Eve and close on Christmas Day.