Responding To A Water Advisory

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QUESTION via social group FROM: Sherry in OT

“Ok I have a bit of a situation.... our city had a water main break and we are on a boil water advisory. I closed the restaurant today due to it but now the news says that it might not be lifted till Thursday. What to do??? Isn’t it a health code violation or something if we open up? I mean I can’t have guests washing there hands in just boiled water! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

It’s also doesn’t help that I have Monday and Tuesdays off and am dropping my car off to get fixed in the AM.... sorry for complaining. And the auto show starts... and did I mention I am the GM and the only manager... for real. I will buck up and do whatever it takes to not be closed. Oh yeah and we have a TV crew coming tomorrow to film for a show that we are featured on. I love my career!”


HH ANSWER:

Health & Safety comes 1st and Guest / Public Perception is a very close 2nd.

Close your restaurant.

Why risk a guest or employee forgetting, not reading a sign, not seeing the (possibly empty) gallon of water in the bathroom and reflexively drinking water from the faucet... or having one of your employees unintentionally not follow protocol 100% and get someone (or themselves) sick?

There are days you’ll have to close anyway. 

Using one of those “timeouts”, early in the game, in exchange for having the public (and your own staff) seeing you “not wanting to take a chance and risk anyone’s safety” - is a smart and prudent move.

You can’t put a price on morale, respect or the public having a higher opinion of you.

Until it’s remedied or until you have a very very well-thought out / foolproof workaround, I’d get your car fixed and think of this whole situation like a plane depressurizing and “secure your own mask first before helping others with theirs”.

If this a common occurrence in your town, there are workarounds that involve: buying new/additional ice & bev storage containers, having ice & bottled water drop-shipped (or purchased at big box retailers), prepping items off-premise, selling pre-packaged items, selling bottled water, boiling water, using insulated water dispensers, printing signs for every sink, washer, fountain/gun/dispenser and using to-gos / paper plates and single use utensils, upcharge for ice and water, etc...

Contact your local Health Dept for clarity, advice and frequent updates.

If it isn’t, error on the side of caution.

Take a page out of Starbucks’ playbook and use a sign like this one if health department isn’t providing them:

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Hang in there,

Josh Sapienza