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Those of us who choose a life in the restaurant business do so because we love to serve others. We live for the smiling faces of our guests as they enjoy the food, service, and environments we create in an effort to enhance the quality of life in our communities.
I have been honored to serve Jacksonians for almost thirty years at BRAVO!, 24 years at Broad Street Baking Company, and 15 years at Sal & Mookie’s New York Pizza & Ice Cream Joint.
The challenges of the pandemic, inflation, and labor shortages are universal to all who are in my industry. But the challenge of failing infrastructure and repeated water outages are unique to those of us who operate within the Jackson city limits.
This past Friday night, having received no notice from the city or any other entity, we learned from customers, social media, and then news outlets, that Jackson was once again under a city-wide boil water notice because of a failure at the water treatment plant located at the Barnett Reservoir.
In the last sixteen months, we have suffered through five major water events: the freeze of February 2021, the power panel fire in April 2021, the misdosing of chemicals in November 2021, the ammonia leak/membrane train failure of June 2022, and now, this crisis we currently face – one of the unsafe levels of solids in the treated water which can carry bacteria and parasites to the taps of our homes and workplaces.
Collectively, these five events alone have cost our businesses tens of thousands of dollars. Each day, depending on the location and the day of the week, we spend between $200 and $500 per location to purchase bottled water, ice, and canned soft drinks.
We must change countless processes and procedures and perform additional steps to ensure safety.
The sad fact is that while we take all these extra precautions, our customer counts and sales numbers invariably drop during a boil water episode, as many potential guests choose to dine elsewhere until the crisis passes.