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The Future Remains Hazy For Employees Of Fire Ravaged Olive Garden


Employees of the Olive Garden restaurant in Jacksonville’s Arlington neighborhood still aren’t sure when they will get back to work after a fire ripped through the building Monday morning.Hunter Robinson, Orlando-based spokesman for Olive Garden parent company Darden Restaurants, said the restaurant is a total loss and could not be re-opened unless it is completely rebuilt.

“At this time we don’t have any info on whether or not we’ll be re-opening, but if we do all of our current team members will be welcomed back to work,” said Robinson. “Right now the well-being of our team members is our number one priority.”

“We are getting help from the other three Olive Garden locations in town as well as the other Darden restaurants in Jacksonville. We are going to offer job placement support to all of them,” he said.

Robinson said that management typically meets with restaurant employees to explain the job placement and support process within the first week of an incident of this type.

According to our news partner News4Jax, a preliminary investigation shows the fire seems to be accidental, but right now it’s still too early to tell.

Around 60-75 firefighters responded to the restaurant after a call at around 2:40 a.m. Monday morning.

Firefighters spent about 25 minutes inside the building trying to put out the blaze, but the roof started collapsing, forcing them to pull out.

“Restaurant fires of this magnitude don’t happen very often at all,” said Robinson. “We’re very thankful that no one was in the restaurant at the time of the fire.”

Robinson added that the company is especially appreciative of the efforts of first responders to ensure public safety during the fire.

You can follow Cole Gordon on Twitter at @Cagordon33Cole.

WJCT News Intern Cole Gordon is a communications major at the University of North Florida.