When Roland Evan Croyle, 45, crashed his vehicle into Twin Peaks restaurant at Robert C. Daniel Parkway this week and then set the restaurant on fire with customers and employees still inside, many residents were shocked that something like this could happen in Augusta.
But it did.
According to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, a brave, unnamed private citizen managed to detain the suspect at gunpoint until deputies arrived at the scene.
The sheriff’s office stated that witnesses described Croyle dousing gas inside the restaurant and then igniting it. Fortunately, there were no injuries related to the fire, but the restaurant was severely damaged and now dozens of employees are out of work.
Why would someone do such a thing?
That may take a while to really figure out.
Employees at the restaurant said that Croyle was a disgruntled employee at times, but no one seemed to ever imagine that he would actually try to harm anyone.
Looks can often be deceiving.
Oddly enough, Twin Peaks is located next door to another restaurant near the Augusta Exchange shopping center that was completely destroyed by fire just last year.
In February 2016, Macaroni Grill was reduced to a pile of rubble following a late-night blaze that began after the restaurant had closed. There were no employees or customers inside the restaurant at the time.
It was a total loss, but it’s no secret that the entire chain of Romano’s Macaroni Grill restaurants has been struggling nationwide for the past several years.
The company has changed hands several times since it first began back in the late 1980s in Texas.
Initially, HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brinker_International” Brinker International, Inc. bought the franchise rights to the company in 1989 and eventually opened more than 200 locations.
After changing hands a couple more times, in 2013 Ignite Restaurant Group purchased Romano’s Macaroni Grill from HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Gate_Capital” Golden Gate Capital for $55 million.
Ignite also owns Joe’s Crab Shack seafood restaurants and the smaller Brick House Tavern & Tap chain.
Only two years after buying the restaurant chain for $55 million, Ignite sold Macaroni Grill to Redrock Partners LLC for an astonishing $47 million loss.
So, it’s not terribly surprising that, after the Augusta location burned down in 2016, Macaroni Grill never rebuilt.
The once popular Italian restaurant is now just an empty lot, but now many people are worried the same fate might befall the Twin Peaks restaurant.
It is a valid concern, especially when one considers that the restaurant’s corporate offices canceled the franchise for the Twin Peaks in Waco, Texas, in 2015, after a shootout at the restaurant in May of that year.
The shootout, which killed nine and injured 18, happened in the Twin Peaks parking lot and involved motorcycle clubs the Bandidos and the Cossacks. It reportedly started because of dispute over a parking spot during which one participant’s foot was run over.
The fight escalated and eventually involved the Waco police and SWAT team, which had already gathered there to monitor the regular meeting between the clubs.
While there are reports that Twin Peaks plans to rebuild its Augusta restaurant, that spot on Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway has been an extremely unlucky location for several restaurants over the years. Augustans can only hope that the owners will be able to rebuild.
In the meantime, several local companies are reaching out to former employees of Twin Peaks and offering them assistance in finding new jobs.
For example, Goodwill’s Director of Community Engagement, Kelly Tabor, met with the Twin Peaks staff on the day of the fire.
Any workers needing assistance are asked to visit the Goodwill Job Connection at 3179 Washington Road at Fury’s Ferry Road or call 706-447-5195.