Dining options have been limited in the City of Saline thanks to Wednesday’s water main break, loss of water service and the resulting boil water advisory that’s expected to be in place until at least 2 p.m. Friday.
On Wednesday, with no water, many restaurants simply closed for the day. Among them were Mark’s Coney Island, Mac’s Acadian Seafood Shack, Brecon Grille, Dan’s Downtown Tavern, and Smokehouse 52. Some restaurants opened – with some with limited menus. They included Salt Springs Brewery, Matty J’s Bakery and Café, Carrigan Café, McDonald’s and other restaurants
Here are the restaurants that we’ve confirmed will be open Thursday.
- Mark’s is opening at 7 a.m.
- Salt Springs Brewery, which is celebrating American Craft Beer Week with a Biergarten Tasting Thursday evening, is open at 11:30 a.m.
- Carrigan Café will open at 6:30 a.m. with a limited menu and is closing at 10:30 a.m.
- Matty J's Bakery is open regular hours, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Restaurants that have announced they are closed Thursday include Smokehouse 52, Dan’s Downtown Tavern.
Yesterday the local county health inspector attempted to visit all of the restaurants which remained open. The inspector worked with restaurant management and owners to determine if they could stay open.
"It comes down to complexity of operations and how much water impacts critical services. There are ways to get around periods where you may not have water," said Alan Hauck, program administrator for the Washtenaw County Health Department.
Hauck said that after speaking with the inspector, some restaurants closed, while others got a plan together and re-opened a little later in the day.
A critical point of consideration is the ability for staff to wash their hands. Another issue is dishes. If you can't wash dishes, how far can you get with take-out containers and disposable plastic wear.
For some of the bigger companies, these issues are easier to solve.
"A big corporation like McDonalds already has procedures for a situation like this. So they have an easier time putting procedures in to place,
In a post on Facebook, owner Dan Kolander announced he was closed until Friday, when the city is expected to lift the boil water advisory.
“Better safe than sorry,” Kolander wrote on Facebook, before inviting people to visit his Clinton restaurant.
Andrew Retter manages Smokehouse 52 in Saline. After meeting with the health department, Retter decided to close until Friday.
"Once we where visited by the Health Department on Monday morning, the decision to remain closed throughout the 48 boil advisory was basically made for us. It is undoubtedly tough on our employees, especially our service staff that rely on tips to support their families. The decision to close did not come easily, as our employees well-being is very important to us," Retter said.
Smokehouse 52 will be open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday.
But some restaurants found ways to remain open and continue serving patrons. McDonald’s served cans of pop instead of fountain pops. Salt Springs Brewery opened its beer garden and served beer, wine and soda – but no food. Carrigan Café couldn’t serve coffee and its regular assortment of sandwiches, but it did serve cold brew expresso and donuts. The Cheese Shop of Saline used bottled water to serve sandwiches.
Karen Carrigan is owner of Carrigan Café on South Ann Arbor Street. She plans to open at 6 a.m. tomorrow. She won’t be selling coffee. She won’t have restrooms. She won’t be making the breakfast sandwiches and regular lunch sandwiches. But she will have cold brewed coffee, made with well water, as well as bottled drinks and pastries, fresh fruits, Barry’s bagels, Benny’s donuts and muffins from Ed’s Bread. And while she can’t make ice, she has several refrigerated drinks to offer.
“We can’t do sandwiches because I do not have a burner in the café to boil water, so we can’t use wash the cutting board and utensils,” Carrigan said. All of the food will be served in to-go containers, because they can’t wash dishes. Karen and her husband are bringing water boiled at home for staff to wash their hands.
“I’m totally watching out for the public’s general safety,” Carrigan said.
To that end, she wants to make sure her morning coffee drinkers don’t suffer caffeine headaches, so she’s offering the Toddy cold brewed expresso.
At the end of the block, the folks at Salt Springs Brewery have a big event planned to celebrate American Craft Beer Week. From 6 to 8 p.m., guests will sample beer and munch on appetizers. Salt opens for business at 11:30 a.m.
There are many factors to weigh when planning to open a restaurant in the middle of a boil water advisor.
“Customer safety, food prep and ability to keep up with cleaning,” said co-owner Mark Zadvinskis, listing a few factors.
But it’s not easy for businesses to shut the doors and send everyone home for 48 hours
“It’s certainly not great news for employees and it’s also incredibly hard on us as the bills and bank loans continue regardless,” Zadvinskis said.
Co-owner Ron Scofield said the brewery is fully committed to following the requirements of the county health department. The brewery more ability to boil water than most.
"Salt Springs has the unique advantage of being able to produce hundreds of gallons of boiling water as need via our 7 bbl brewing system. This will provide staff will all fresh water needs as well as the heated water required for washing and sanitizing all dish and glassware. We have explained the situation to all staff and everyone will be working thoughtfully and with best sanitation practices to insure than all food and drinks are safe for our guests," Scofield said. "Salt Springs Brewery is committed to providing fresh, safe food for our guests, and our staff. We have taken the proper, thoughtful, deliberate steps to insure that we are on top of this situation until the boil advisory is lifted by the City of Saline. We trust that our guests will understand and appreciate that the use of disposable dishes and glasses, along with a slightly reduced scope of menu is intended to insure that we are able to provide the level of food and service the community has come to expect from us."
In some cases, it helps to have a small operation. The Cheese Shop of Saline isn't a restaurant, but it does have a loyal lunch crowd thanks to their sandwiches. Owner John Loomis is opening his shop for its regular hours - from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
"I guess it's one of the advantages of being small. I can operate using bottled water," Loomis said.
At Matty J's, owner Shawna Sloan said the water issue doesn't impact most of her business. She won't be able to serve coffee, iced tea or salads. Sloan bought enough water to complete her dough mixing.
"We will still have all of our baked goods and sandwiches and bottles beverages. I'm working on picking up some bottled cold brew from our coffee vendor," Sloan said.
She said the inspector from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Developer helped her find ways to keep the doors open while safely serving her customers.