Economic impact of the power outage

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A majority of the customers without power in downtown South Bend are businesses. Because it's graduation weekend, local restaurants and hotels were expecting to be busy. How much of a financial impact will the outage have on these businesses and the city?

This weekend, students at both St. Mary's College and the University of Notre Dame are graduating.

Many downtown businesses are using generators to stay open. But not all the businesses were able to reopen.

For Cafe Navarre and LaSalle Grill, there was no question of if they would reopen - but when. They each have around 1,000 reservations booked this weekend.

"This is only the second time in 23 years that we've been open that downtown has been without power," said Mark McDonnell, owner of the LaSalle Grill.

Right then, the generator kicked in.

The sound of the generator's engine was like the sound of money in the bank for McDonnell. This weekend could bring in as much as $60,000.

"We would have looked at a loss over the three days of somewhere to between $40,000 and $60,000. And worse than that - employees wouldn't have been paid," said McDonnell.


This outage hit downtown South Bend on its biggest money making weekend of the year.


"Thousands of dollars. Thousands and thousands of dollars, not only for the Chocolate Company but for all of downtown. We have guests coming in out of town. This is a huge weekend every year," said Sherri Huffer, Manager at South Bend Chocolate Cafe.

"It's bigger than home football weekends, bigger than New Year's Eve because you've got Friday, Saturday, Sunday, three consecutive days of capacity, so we had about 1300 reservations," said Kurt Janowsky, owner of Cafe Navarre.

Restaurant owners and managers aren't just worried about the reservations.

"I just had a huge ice cream delivery yesterday, so that was my first thought. All of these probably 50 gallons of ice cream delivered. That can't sit," said Huffer.


For the South Bend Chocolate Cafe staff-that meant spending three hours loading food into a refrigerated truck.

Cafe Navarre did the same thing.

But after 30 years of working in the restaurant business, Janowsky says sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.


"These things happen, there's just nothing you can do about it. It's a hazard of being in any business," said Janowsky.

Cafe Navarre, LaSalle Grill and the South Bend Chocolate Cafe area all open.

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