SEFFNER, Florida - Engineers are working to figure out if a sinkhole is to blame for cracks at a Bob Evans restaurant, located off Mango Road in Seffner. The restaurant was shut down over the weekend and remains closed while the work is being done. The testing is expected to take several days.
On Sunday, employees showed up at the restaurant to find a series of cracks splitting through walls from top and bottom and also rising through the floor. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue officials evacuated the restaurant and crews with Bob Evans made sure the property was secure.
The director of Code Enforcement for Hillsborough County said the cracks did appear to shift overnight. Officials said apart from a possible sinkhole, a washout could be causing the cracks, which happens when the ground is unstable due to a lot of rain.
Seffner resident Jeremy Bush, showed up at the scene on Monday morning to take a look. His brother, Jeff, lost his life when a sinkhole opened up under his home along Faithway Drive back in February. The restaurant is about four blocks away from that house.
For Jeremy, even though it's unclear whether a sinkhole is behind this latest incident, it still leaves him emotional.
"Why couldn't our property just crack? Why did it have to claim a life?" asked Jeremy.
"It's been hard. It's hard to deal with. I can't sleep at night. I have bad dreams when I do sleep. All I do is think about my brother and what happened," he added.
Whether it's a sinkhole or not, Jeremy said it's a good thing people with the restaurant got the opportunity to take action. It's something his family never had the night his brother died.
Harvey Brownlee, Bob Evans Restaurants Chief Operations Officer, issued this statement:
"Our Seffner, Florida, restaurant remains closed this morning after county engineers identified structural over the weekend. We are working with local authorities, independent geotechnical engineers and our Bob Evans facilities team to identify the cause of the damage.
"Our restaurant employees have been temporarily transferred to nearby restaurants in the Tampa area. We have no plans to re-open the restaurant until such time as we can ensure the absolute safety of our employees and guests."