BARBERTON: Wednesday’s storms turned their businesses into waterfront property, but Rocky’s Drive Thru and the Dairy Queen next door have stayed open throughout the deluge, serving a grateful neighborhood that skirts road barricades to reach the backs of their buildings.
Both businesses are on the south side of Norton Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Streets, where flood waters were still lapping at the front curb on Friday morning.
But behind their buildings, Harrington Road was dry and accessible to folks who knew to slip around the “Road Closed” signs half a block away.
Fourth Street resident Gail Saunders said Rocky’s owner Shaun Jaber was musing over whether to stay open since Norton Avenue was under water when she told him, “You stay open cause I need stuff.”
She said she’s made a couple of trips since then for toilet paper, pop and the daily newspaper.
“I was proud of him for staying open,” she said.
Rocky’s has been a staple in the neighborhood for over 40 years, the last 14 under Jaber’s ownership.
His convenience store offers three tanning booths, something he said has been popular this year because of this particularly cloudy and rainy summer.
But it was his gas pumps he was counting on to draw in more customers Friday morning, when he announced on his Facebook page that he would sell it for $1.99 a gallon for a couple of hours.
“I just did it to get people back in the area,” he said.
About 25 cars found their way to Rocky’s and filled up in a half-hour period, ending about 9:30 a.m., but Jaber said he stopped the sale when police asked him to reconsider.
“They said there was a traffic and safety issue,” he said. He didn’t argue the point, he said, and returned his gas to its regular price.
Barberton Police would not comment for this story.
Meanwhile, Dairy Queen said they sold several cakes Thursday — when the flooding was even closer to their front door.
“We had a lot of calls and we told people we were staying open and to come in the back way,” said an employee who would only identify herself as Donna. “We did a decent amount of business.”
Jaber said some of the customers he has served over the past two days were sightseers hanging out in his parking lot taking pictures of the flood.
“We had a lot of people come down because they wanted to see it,” he said.
Catty-corner from his store, the flood was encroaching on Barberton High School on two sides. Trees on school property appear to be growing out of a lake.
“It was a lot worse yesterday,” Jaber said Friday morning. “The water’s down about six inches, I think.”