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Main Street businesses contend with power outage in SK

November 2, 2012

The Alternative Food Co-op was one of multiple businesses affected by the power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy.

SOUTH KINGSTOWN—As of Thursday morning, power remained out for the businesses and properties along Main Street and High Street in downtown Wakefield. While National Grid has been working throughout the day and night hours to restore power, business owners have been doing their best to preserve product and cope with the issues associated with a prolonged power outage.

“We lost power on Monday afternoon about 3 p.m. and on Tuesday, you anticipate that the electricity is coming back on,” said Rosemary Galiani, owner of the Alternative Food Co-op. “We had a makeshift coffee stand outside, and did boiling water and drip coffee.”

“There was a long line and we were trying to sell out any food we could, such as some of our cookies and prepared foods,” she added. “We have been trying to make the best of it, anticipating the power would come back on.”

Because the power outage has lasted longer than Galiani expected, much of their dairy and frozen food product had to be discarded. Galiani estimated that approximately $15,000 was lost over this past week without power.

“The Board of Health was here and took the temperature of the product,” said Galiani. “We had to discard all the milk and frozen. People have been coming in and we’ve just been doing cash and check, hand ringing things up.”

“We are trying to be open for the community as best as we can,” she added.

Galiani even grilled portions of the meat that the Co-op stocks in order to sell it safely to the public, a recourse which was allowed by the state Board of Health, who have been traveling to businesses across the state and surveying the quality of product during the power outage. Galiani expressed her frustration with having to discard of so much product.

“It is so sad to have to throw away good food,” said Galiani. “We are a small business, so the fact that we have not had power is killing us.”

The situation has been similar for other businesses on Main Street, such as Sweeney’s Wine and Spirits. Owner Michael Sweeney gave his thanks to a local patron who provided his business with a generator in order that it remain open throughout the power outage.

“I have a big debt of gratitude to Dave Sipperly, he saved me,” said Sweeney. “He came in and gave me a generator and, out of the kindness of his heart, went home and gave me gas.”

“I have been able to do cash and checks and am the only one open here,” he added. Overall, I think everybody has handled it well. Ice is the biggest commodity and I have been going to the Pier Ice plant. I jumped into my van yesterday and brought a pallet over.”

The power outage did not prevent Sweeney from being a little creative with the clientele, however.

“We had fun with it last night because we had Sweeney’s haunted liquor store,” said Sweeney. “Customers were laughing and we had fun for a while until 9 p.m. Then the Mew’s took over with their Halloween party.”

“[National Grid] is saying it is such a mess,” he added. “We completely understand they need to get to people first. They are doing the best they can.”

As of Thursday morning, Phil’s Restaurant was still doing healthy business with the power out. Customers without power flocked into the restaurant for some breakfast and a cup of coffee.

“On Monday we lost power at 4 p.m.,” said owner Ken Tetzner. “Our grills are on propane, so Tuesday morning opened up with small generator to run the toasters. We had lanterns everywhere for light and we were boiling water, pouring it over the coffee filters to make coffee.”

“You don’t even realize how much coffee you sell until you do it the old fashion way,” he added.

Tetzner was surprised at the amount of patrons who came into Phil’s to eat, but thanked them for their service.

“People really appreciate it, and we thank them for coming,” said Tetzner. “We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback. On the first day, we sold all the eggs I had, then it was pancakes and French toast really, whatever we could feed people.”

“I have been running to Belmont every morning, running around grabbing food and pretty much cooking it right to order, which we do anyways,” he added. “We were joking around, saying that I had 12 eggs left, we would be auctioning off the eggs.”

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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