Jackson, MS, restaurants survive water crisis

Many Jackson restaurants are still trying to pick up the pieces as they tackle the daily challenges of the water crisis.

Restaurants are reporting that things are slowly returning to normal as water pressure was restored this week. But normalcy always comes with challenges.

A boil water advisory still exists and continues to complicate operations.

“This thing is not over,” said Andy Nesenson, general manager of the downtown Iron Horse Grill. “This has been affecting my restaurant since July 29 when the problems started.”

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Cases of water from cities and volunteers from the South were donated to restaurants in the area to meet the needs of customers and the kitchen. And Visit Jackson has set up grant opportunities for restaurants in need, but restaurants continue to struggle financially.

Wait staff called the situation crazy and noted that water issues were limiting menus, which also affected customers.

“It was really tough for us,” said Angela Beeson, office manager at Room Service Restaurant, a popular downtown salad restaurant. Beeson noted that they couldn’t use the drink dispensers at the fountain.

The Iron Horse Grill is one of many restaurants in the Jackson area feeling the effects of the water crisis.

“So far, we’ve been processing this boil water advisory in Jackson for six weeks,” Nesenson said. “It’s had an absolutely negative impact on our business, whether it’s the extra cost to stay open, the cost of buying the water or litter collection boxes. We’re spending between $2,000 and $2,500 per week in addition to reducing the volume of guests walking through the door. This is a recipe for disaster and an industry-wide problem in the Jackson area.”

“Customers hated that we had to raise our prices,” Beeson said. “The only drinks we could distribute were bottled water.”

“We rely on clean water for everything to do with restaurant cleanliness and the cleanliness of our products,” said Phil Stamps Jr., operations manager at Stamps Super Burger. “We used bottled water access and bought bottled water to try to make sure the doors stayed open, but it was a challenge. We have suffered a significant revenue loss of 14-15% this month compared to the same month last year.

A $50,000 grant from Visit Jackson has been announced to help restaurants hard hit by the water crisis.

“This grant has been made available to restaurants and any entity that serves food on-site.” said Yolanda Clay-Moore, director of communications for Visit Jackson.

Restaurants can apply for up to $2,000 in funding from Visit Jackson.

Journalist Kiara Fleming can be reached by email [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @ki_dajournalis

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