A plumbing problem led to the temporary closure of an Italian restaurant in Joplin, Missouri.
Johnny Carino’s had to close after an apparent restaurant drain backup caused sewage from the restaurant run into a storm drain, according to a health inspection. According to the report, grease buildup was suspected as the reason for a “large volume of sewage” flowing down the street into the drain. City workers used a vacuum excavator and erosion socks to catch and filter excess grease from the runoff.
Ryan Talken, assistant director of the Joplin Health Department, said none of the sewage water flowed inside the restaurant. Because the restaurant was unable to use running water, the department recommended that the restaurant cease operations until repairs could be made. Ownership and management agreed, Talken said.
The restaurant had already that day been given a routine inspection, which it passed.
“The inspector noted that the grease trap was having issues then, but at the time of the inspection, it was still flowing,” Talken said. “As the temperature cooled that night, that caused everything to freeze up. It was done at that point.”
Sarah Jepson, area director for Johnny Carino’s, said that the restaurant had the plumbing problem repaired and was able to open the next day in time for dinner.
Lynden Lawson, assistant director of operations, said that the sewer main in that area was not damaged.
The city’s public works department has placed a renewed focus on excess grease over the past two years. Lawson was on the agenda to speak at a recent City Council meeting to talk specifically about the effects of fats, oils and grease on wastewater infrastructure.
Excessive buildup of those substances can lead to blockages that cause spills and breaks. “Fatbergs” discovered across the United States and the United Kingdom have drawn more awareness about the harm those substances cause.
About two years ago the department hired an inspector specifically for checking the grease traps of restaurants.
“Before we had this person, we had a lot more grease going into sewer mains,” Lawson said. “This is a preventive measure for us. It’s an ongoing process to try and mitigate these events from getting into our mains.”
If you want to prevent your commercial kitchen drains from getting clogged with food solids to prevent sewer backups and having to close your restaurant, consider installing The Drain Strainer. Invented by a former restaurant owner, The Drain Strainer is an effective and affordable commercial garbage disposal alternative. The Drain Strainer is a wet waste collector that prevents your grease trap and restaurant drain from getting clogged with food debris while still allowing your sinks to drain quickly.