New Tampa residents craving bottomless salad and breadsticks were turned away for a few hours on March 12 at the Olive Garden located in The Pointe At Tampa Palms shopping center, due to a natural gas leak at the intersection of Tampa Palms Blvd. and Palm Pointe Dr.
According to the Tampa Police Department (TPD), a company contracted by Brighthouse Networks accidentally struck a natural gas line around 10:15 a.m. while installing some fiber optic cable behind the restaurant, at the edge of the property.
The leak was reported and a Tampa Fire Rescue unit, along with a Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Response team, responded to assess the situation and seal the leak. The area was cleared a little after 1 p.m. and no injuries were reported.
TPD reports that the business area was “modestly affected,” particularly Olive Garden, which was evacuated and closed for about two hours.
“It’s not great to be closed during lunch hours,” says Mike Bernstein, a spokesperson for Olive Garden. “It’s unfortunate, but we’re back open for normal business.”
Bernstein says that there were about ten patrons in the restaurant when it was evacuated and that they were all given gift certificates and urged to return when the restaurant reopened.
Traffic also was affected in the Shoppes at The Pointe shopping center located directly behind Olive Garden. TPD blocked exiting traffic from making a left-hand turn out of the shopping center onto Tampa Palms Blvd. while the leak was being worked on, but the turn lane was reopened once the leak was sealed.