Suffolk restaurant workers do overtime

Published 11:02 pm Monday, August 29, 2011

About 20 people were waiting in line when Chick-fil-A opened its doors Monday at noon. The North Main Street restaurant had lost power Saturday.

Restaurant owners in Suffolk have been working overtime this week, thanks to Hurricane Irene.

Whether serving customers looking for a hot meal or trying to save the food in their own freezers, many restaurant employees worked through the weekend to serve their customers.

The restaurants that never lost power during the storm or only lost it for a short time have seen an increase in business, as many homeowners who still don’t have power headed out to get a bite.

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At the Subway on Harbour View Boulevard, employee Nishant Pandey said twice as many people as normal stopped by the shop Sunday.

“We made what we usually make in two days in one day,” he said. “We’re busier than we usually are.”

Pandey said when the workers opened the restaurant Sunday at 9 a.m., about 10 people followed them in to get breakfast.

“When we came in, we had no bread, so we just sold flatbreads,” Pandey said.

To make matters worse, he said, the store’s bread maker wasn’t working properly, so it was producing half as much bread as usual.

The shop ran out of bread entirely Sunday afternoon, but that didn’t keep customers away.

“We put the sign out that we didn’t have bread, but people still came in and asked for personal pizzas,” he said. “It was crazy. I think Harbour View was the only place that didn’t lose power at all.”

The Chick-fil-A on North Main Street didn’t have the same luck.

The restaurant lost power during the storm and didn’t get it back until Sunday night. Owner Nicole Digby said all of the food kept in the coolers was lost, but the restaurant managed to save some supplies by keeping them in a freezer truck in the parking lot during the outage.

But when the restaurant re-opened Monday at noon, Digby said, employees were greeted by a line of 20 people waiting to get in.

Farther downtown, Primo 116 owners Steve and Margaret Gellas couldn’t plan the restaurant’s re-opening for most of the weekend because the power was still out.

Margaret Gellas said the electricity went out midday Saturday. It came back late Monday.

“Everything is a total loss,” she said. “Once your freezer and refrigerator goes down, everything that’s in there has to be thrown out.”

Gellas said she hopes their insurance will cover the loss of product, as well as the loss of business.

Even with the power back, Primo 116 still won’t be able to open immediately.

Gellas said there is still work to be done, because they will have to replenish the inventory that was lost.

“You have to recoup the product,” she said. “It’s a real problem for us.”

Gellas said she and her husband hope to reopen the restaurant Wednesday.

“Hopefully, we can get up and running soon.”