A plumbing problem Thursday night led to the temporary closure of an Italian restaurant in Joplin. 

Johnny Carino's, located at 137 N. Range Line Road, closed Thursday after an apparent line backup caused  sewage from the restaurant run into a storm drain, according to a health inspection performed Thursday night. 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 on Friday 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 Monday night's 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." 

Follow Digital Editor Joe Hadsall on Twitter at @JoeHadsall.

Joe Hadsall is the digital editor for The Joplin Globe. He has been the editor of the former Nixa News-Enterprise and has worked for the Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine.

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