Boil Water Advisory Causing Business Problems

If 2020 and 2021 weren’t tough enough for businesses with their myriad of issues, including the pandemic, border issues and the winter storm, another city-wide boil water advisory that is expected. lasting longer than a week has been added to this list of problems that business owners must overcome.

For many local businesses whose primary offerings are beverages, clean water is vital to daily operations for them and for all other food and beverage establishments. So even though the advisory is lifted on its current target date of Monday, nine days without water has a major impact. The city suffered a similar situation in 2019 which lasted for 11 days.

According to Billy Hrncir, owner of Dosis Coffee, the local café roasts its own coffee and focuses on traditional espresso-based drinks. It opened about a year ago on a mobile bus before moving to a brick and mortar store.

Regarding the boil water advisory, Hrncir said the store was running on bottled water during the company’s bus phase, which gave them a better understanding of what it had to be done during this notice. However, being in a larger facility now meant that they were now connected to the city’s water supply and would be forced to find a new water source.

“The risks of cross-contamination from serving a hot drink will be much lower, but it’s definitely not something we wanted to risk anyway,” he said. “We obviously had to abandon the more traditional brewing methods.”

With the extra time of boiling water before brewing the coffee, Hrncir said this would not allow the store to provide the same quick service as a normal day. This also takes the espresso machine into account, because as long as it is hot, it only hits 206 degrees – just below the boiling water temperature of 212.

“We wanted to make sure that we weren’t putting our customers at risk of any kind, so we decided to stick with our cold brew,” Hrncir said.

On the way to the water stations for ice and water in Cotulla, the shop’s cold brew was brewed over a 12 hour period. He explained that because other forms of coffee have an espresso base and are brewed in hot water, they cannot be brewed with water during the boil advisory. But since cold brew has a longer extraction period in cold water, finding clean water and brewing it over a day allows them to keep employees on the job and provide service.

“We drove to Cotulla to collect ice cream and water bottles, and we had to drive back and then put in a batch to brew. And then when you get there in the morning you take out that batch that has brewed overnight, then put in a new one so you have more for the afternoon, ”Hrncir said. “So we’re going to be making 12-hour brews and trying to stay ahead of demand, but we know how important it is to keep people caffeinated.”

Unfortunately, additional travel and bottled water purchases come at an unexpected cost to the local store, a cost that won’t necessarily affect other corporate coffee chains like Dunkin or Starbucks in the long run.

Restaurants and cafes have closed in response to the boil water advisory. However, for convenience stores, the closure means a day of unearned income and employees out of work. Some continued to function without using their fountain drinks. Others bought two-liter cans or cans to sell instead.

Among them is 550 Pizzeria, a local establishment which has just celebrated its first anniversary because facing obstacles, such as the pandemic, is a regular occurrence for it. The restaurant also had to stop the salads as the tap water is used to clean the lettuce.

“We’ve always boiled our water for dough and pasta,” said Janet Duran, owner of 550 Pizzeria. “We don’t sell salads or fountain drinks. It’s one thing that just stays there and the Coke machine syrups. I have to buy cans of Coke every day.

Other businesses that don’t serve food have their own challenges. Local daycares are potentially one of them. However, some have managed to overcome the challenge. KinderClub TOO Learning Center, an LLC owned by Veronica Valdez, said they have distilled water in their facilities and thus avoid the impact.

Meanwhile, some companies have actually been positively affected – companies that offer home tap water purification systems.

One of them is Vilu Energy, a water and energy purification company operated by Victor Hugo. He said the problems Laredo has faced over the years have led him to incorporate the element of water purification into his services after specializing in solar power for years.

Hugo said since the boil water advisory was announced on Sunday, he has received a large number of new calls from potential customers. He says this shows people want to take personal initiatives to make sure their own essential resources are clean and don’t just have to depend on the city.

“Filtering the water is the best way to clean up any problems that the water has in Laredo,” Hugo said.

However, not all businesses are fortunate enough to be unaffected.

Dosis continued this week, but not without seeing a drop in sales as Hrncir has said in some cases, once people found out their drink of choice was not available they would come out.

“People have their routines and habits, and we’re not here to tell them otherwise. So we have lost customers, ”he said. “I hope that’s as long as the watering advisory lasts. I don’t think they’re gone forever.

Hrncir continues to stay positive and understands that everyone is struggling over the past week. Whether it’s people unable to brush their teeth normally or restaurants unable to function as usual, a prolonged boil water advisory takes a heavy toll on the community.

Dosis Coffee announced on Friday that they will be closed on Saturday to restock and prepare for what they hope will be a normal week.

Those businesses affected by the boil water advisory say they are looking for something positive and that the city is offering them compensation or relief from the water payment since the issue has affected their sales.

“I understand that things are happening, but this is not the first time. I would love to have some kind of help from the city, ”Duran said. “Maybe have a free water bill or at least some sort of percentage off my bill.”

As the city announces that the boil water advisory is expected to be lifted on Monday following the implementation of the free chlorine conversion on Tuesday, all eyes will be on city officials to ensure these situations are alleviated in the future. to come up.

At this time, the city has not mentioned whether repairs or financial compensation will be provided to these affected businesses, as the city of Laredo’s public information specialist David Alegria said the city is currently focusing only on solving the problem of boiling water.

“As we are still working on lifting the boil water advisory, no discussion or decision has been taken in this regard,” he said.

About Glenda Wait

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