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That BBQ Place reopens on Matlacha nearly one week after deadly crash

Posted at 10:07 PM, Apr 19, 2024

MATLACHA, Fla. — On Friday, the smoke from That BBQ Place began to rise once again. - as does the heart-broken community of Matlacha.

During their reopening day, Mark Gulbrandson, worked on the planter that he adopted for the Mary Lou Memorial Garden that now sits where the patio tables use to be.

“Butch and Mary Lou are some of the first people we met when we moved down here,” said Gulbrandson.

State troopers say a 24-year-old Cape Coral man is accused of plowing into five people who were sitting on That BBQ Place's patio when a car came crashing into them, killing Mary Lou Sharp and then crashing into a pickup truck.

It was the owner John Petrus’ idea to remove his patio tables and dedicate the area to Mary Lou.

He said it’s his chance to preserve Mary Lou’s name and also push for better safety on a busy pine island road

While Fox 4's Matlacha Community Correspondent Colton Chavez and Photojournalist Andy Cunningham were at That BBQ Place, they witnesses a Lee County Sheriff Deputy pull over three drivers in less than one hour.

“I am going to say this as bluntly as i can...we need safer drivers,” said Petrus.

Onofrio Demattia, is the owner of the, Fine Jewelry Botique next to the barbeque restuaurant spoke to Colton Chavez on Friday about the rules for outdoor seating for businesses.

“See the dirt–that is still ours..this is mainly for emergency vehicles,” said Demattia.

Demattia says That BBQ Place is allowed to have tables or a memorial garden in front of his patio.

“So happy to see something like this i love this community..this is what kept me here,” said Demattia.

There is a butterfly release planned for outside That BBQ Place on Saturday, April 20 at 5:30 PM.

There is also a benefit concert in Saint James City on Sunday.