Small Business: When the Power Goes Out
what, no power?
Yes, there are times when a restaurant owner will find himself without power for more than just a few hours, especially in the winter months if you live in the northern half of the states. In the twenty-three years I lived in southern Maine, it happened at least five times that I can remember. At first, your only concern will be how your patrons will pay for meals already served as the credit card machine lies idle. Then, the second phase of reality sets in as the temperature of the coolers and freezers creep into the danger zone. What happens when the coolers reach 70 degrees and the freezer thermometer shows a warm 40? Without a back-up plan, you could very well lose thousands of dollars of product and unless you are insured for such a loss, it will put a big dent in your food cost. Third, when you finally come to terms with the potential loss, you realize that it is time to open your establishment and your heart and let in those who are in need. I once helped feed more than a hundred homeless and some with homes as well who were suddenly in need. A black out is a powerful equalizer.
Here are some helpful hints from someone who has been there more than once. While your customers are lingering around the candlelight and finishing their desserts, pull out the mechanical swiper, you know the one with the slide that gave you carpal tunnel syndrome at your first job in the department store back in the 70s. Second, do what the Saturday night barbecue restaurants do here in the upstate of SC, make your patrons pay CASH. Third, light the candles and the gas stove and cook, cook, cook.
As far as the refrigeration goes, if you live in Maine and it is winter, do as I did. Open the window and bury the food in the snow. It will last for days.
Buon Appetito e Buona Salute, Chef Angela Bell
Beyond the Bull (an “eat smart” kitchen)
233 W. Main St., Central, SC 29630
This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.