A Lubbock restaurant is closing its doors just hours after learning their building might not be safe. The announcement comes after an inspection that shows structural damage that could cause a roof collapse like the one at the Little Panda on March 20th. It's also a restaurant housed in one of the old Taco Bell style buildings.
Inspectors determined it was a combination of poor building design and wind that cause the Little Panda roof to cave in and kill one person. A safety alert was issue for buildings of similar design. NewsChannel 11's Jennifer Vogel has been following this investigation and found out a business is closing in fear of another possible roof collapse.
The restaurant closed its doors just after five o'clock on Thursday. The building was not originally considered a safety risk, but a new report released suggests the owners add support to the walls to stop a possible roof collapse. But the owners of Josie's said they were not going to take the chance, and announced on Thursday that the location would be shut down effective immediately.
"We were put at risk for two months, and we could not justify why we should stay open." After 14 years, Josie's #4 at 50th and Avenue L is closing.
Owner Frank Castaneda says, "A business we can open anywhere. A life we can never bring back."
The owners of Josie's say ever since the roof collapsed at the Little Panda, they have been questioning their own structure. At first, inspectors said the building was safe. Now, a report from RTR Engineers cites a possible safety risk.
Josie's Vice President, Pauline Childers says, "We were sure this building was deemed safe. To find out two months later there was a question in the structure, without being informed, was not appropriate."
The report says, "...an extreme wind event could still possibly cause a localized failure in the relatively tall unreinforced masonry parapet wall."
Josie's owners were shocked from the news, especially because the first time they heard it was through their customers, not inspectors. "If I can't be 100% confident when I walk into the doors of my own business, I can't expect my customers to be."
Josie's does have five other locations in town. While this building is closing for now, they do plan to reopen a sixth Josie's at a later date. Josie's owners tell NewsChannel 11 the building owner is planning to take the advice on the report and fix the damages, and not tear down the structure.
Lunchtime Tragedy: Roof Collapse Kills One & Injures Others At Local Restaurant
New information has been released in a story we've been following. We now know the identity of the 23-year-old woman who died when the roof collapsed at the Little Panda restaurant. NewsChannel 11's Jennifer Vogel has this report.