Outback Steakhouse owner burned when van crashes through kitchen

Outback Steakhouse owner burned when van crashes through kitchen
Source: Facebook
Source: Facebook

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The owner of Savannah's Outback Steakhouse is one of seven employees hurt after a van crashed through the restaurant's kitchen Friday night.

Susan Cobb, Outback assistant general manager, said Saturday owner Davey James is being treated at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta. James is a member of the Savannah Chamber of Commerce and the Urban Savannah Chamber of Commerce, and friends and fellow business partners say he's always willing to step up to help his community.

"Davey's very dedicated," Marcia Banes, co-creator of Savannah Lip Sync Battles, said. "In the last conversation we had, we were going to brainstorm about some upcoming events and some things for some new fundraisers, and absolutely every time he's asked he says to me, 'Whatever I can do. Whatever I can do.'"

When she organized a lip sync battle fundraiser last year for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and needed an additional team to compete, Banes said James volunteered himself and his employees without hesitation.

"He totally jumped in, and he performed two different songs," she said. "He was a big hit. He came out in a big blonde wig, and he's just such a fun guy to be around. If you've ever met Davey, he has a huge smile, and you just are immediately attracted to him and want to talk to him and find out kind of what he's into. Great guy to have around."

"This year for our lip sync battle, he was one of our celebrity judges, and he brought gift certificates for the winners," Banes said. "[He] tells me again he just wants to be as involved as he can possibly be with everything that has to do with nonprofits and the community."

James was one of three employees airlifted Friday to the burn center in Augusta. Banes said she received several messages from community organizations James supports, like the Savannah Bananas, asking for updates on his condition after Friday's crash.

"I started getting responses from the Bananas and the people from lip sync and all of our friends just praying and saying, 'Keep us informed. Keep us posted. Thank you for posting.'"

The owner of St. Simons' Outback Steakhouse was in Savannah Saturday helping coordinate clean up, and he said James was in the ICU at last check. Banes hopes James' caring spirit carries him through to recovery.

"He's kind of a regional guy for the Outback's here along the southeastern [coast] here, and he was telling me he wanted to get each one to be involved in their community the way he is here in Savannah," Banes said. "That just shows the way his mind works is 'What can I do to help somebody else?' So we hope he pulls through, and we're here to help him with whatever he needs, too."

Contractors were at the restaurant Saturday to assess the damage and start cleaning up. Cobb, the assistant general manger, said she has no idea how long it will be before power is restored and the restaurant is reopened. She said her immediate focus is the staff and their needs.

Copyright 2018 WTOC. All rights reserved.