Eight days of sales lost by bars, restaurants
'We are open for business ... come back downtown'
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George C. Ford
CEDAR RAPIDS — Owners of bars and restaurants in downtown Cedar Rapids were moving quickly Friday to open their doors after being closed for a week or more.
White Star Ale House, 305 Second Ave. SE, opened Thursday night. Owner and general manager Andy Franks said full food and bar service was set to resume Friday evening.
“In order to open the bar Thursday, we had to get MidAmerican Energy to turn on our natural gas, and they were great to work with,” Franks said. “Linn County Public Health came by and asked a couple of pertinent questions.
“After discovering that we didn’t lose power and we didn’t have any water or sewage backups, they gave us the clear to open.
“We lost six and half days of service. I don’t know the dollar figure for that, so I’m just going to move forward and not dwell on that.”
Also opened Thursday night was Hazzard County American Saloon, 329 Second Ave. SE.
“We had to unplug the drains that we had plugged downstairs, and the health department had us burn the ice that we had in the ice bin and we made new ice,” said Brian Hughes, owner of Hazzard County. “We didn’t have any water in the basement. In June 2008, we had 12 feet of water, so we were prepared this time and we were lucky.
“We just hope that people understand we are open for business and we need them to come back downtown.”
Jim Payne, owner of Ruby’s Pizzeria, 223 Second St. SE, said the restaurant lost about eight days of business.
“We took all of our food to Mr. Beans in Marion, which was nice enough to provide us cooler space,” Payne said. “We raised everything up about five feet, rather than taking it out.
“We were really ready to open Thursday. We took the extra time to repaint the kitchen and wax our floors, so today was just a lot of (food) prep work.”
Payne said Ruby’s would open at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“I think we will come back better than ever,” he said. “We have a lot of people coming downtown Saturday to help with the Paramount Theatre seating. We will be running pizzas over for the volunteers to say ‘thanks.’”
Bryan Bredman, co-owner of Pub 217 at 217 Third St. SE, expected to reopen for bar service at 5 p.m. Friday.
“We used this opportunity to do some fall cleaning,” Bredman said. “We pulled out all of our compressors, kitchen equipment and food.
“We donated all of our perishable food to an apartment complex on J Street SW. We have fresh food coming in today, and our kitchen will be open Saturday.”
Bredman estimated about $30,000 worth of business was lost over the eight days that Pub 217 was closed. He praised the work of city workers who built the temporary flood protection as well as Mayor Ron Corbett’s call for patronizing businesses affected by the flood.
“We had people show up with sandbags,” he said. “The next thing I knew, we had a human chain across Third Street passing sandbags to the front of our building. It was really incredible.”
Asked what he had to do to reopen Red’s Public House at 112 Second St. SE, owner Jordan Caviness replied, “Everything.”
“We took everything upstairs to the empty apartments or off-site,” Caviness said. “We have a refrigeration semi at one of our other locations, so we took all of our food and beer there to hold until we could reopen. Now, we’re putting all of our kitchen equipment and tables back in the building.
“We were fortunate to have some HESCO barriers donated to us. We had to cut open one end and remove the sand by hand, which we took to another location.”
Caviness said he plans to resume alcohol-only business Saturday or Sunday, but wait until Monday to offer food.
“With all the prep work that we have to do, getting food here and the smoking of meats, it will take a couple of days for us to be fully ready to go. We need to have the kitchen fully prepared for business,” he explained.
Caviness also owns the Stadium Lounge, Mulligans Pub, Shueys Restaurant & Lounge and Vito’s in Cedar Rapids as well as Vito’s in North Liberty.
“If the flood had been much worse and we had been shut down for quite a while, our employees would have had other options to go to work,” he said.
Bob Wagner, owner of Need Pizza, 207 Second Ave. SE, said it likely will be early next week or possibly Wednesday before the restaurant is open.
“We broke down everything in preparation and took everything out of here,” Wagner said. “We’re taking this opportunity to do some deep cleaning and rearranging the place for greater efficiency.
“Our staff is helping us clean and bring some (equipment) down from upstairs. Friends and family are helping us bring stuff back from warehouses.
“Our biggest worry was the basement, but all the drain plugs held. Once we have everything back together, we’re good to go.”
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