The sign outside Kirby’s Korner Restaurant said it all.
“We thought gasoline $$ was r worst gas problem,” it read, hanging over a largely empty parking lot.
With more than 4,300 customers in Seguin and McQueeney cut off from natural gas service since Tuesday because of a damaged pipeline, restaurants with gas appliances found themselves either struggling to stay open or having to close.
The local gas company, CenterPoint Energy, announced Wednesday the pipeline had been repaired and technicians would begin the relighting process, and it expected most gas service to be back by Friday.
As of the lunch hour on Wednesday, though, Kirby’s grill and fryer, were still out of service. The silenced phone racked up dozens of missed calls from customers looking to place orders that the burger joint couldn’t fill.
“I picked up the phone a second ago, and they’re like, ‘Oh, I got an order for hamburgers,’ and I’m like, ‘Sorry to break your heart, lady. I can’t serve you hamburgers,’” said Kirby’s grill cook, Oscar Reyes.
Instead, restaurant staff spent the day Wednesday cleaning “from the floor up.” They had tried to push through the outage on Tuesday by serving the food items they could still churn out without gas appliances.
“We were trying to stay open mainly on baked potatoes and hot dogs and salads with no chicken,” Reyes said.
On Wednesday, though, Reyes said they “don’t want to break the customers hearts.”
“Like they come in for a hamburger and then they don’t want leave with a big potato, you know?” he said.
Over on Kingsbury Street, Rosie’s Pizza To Go was suffering through its second day having to close, with its gas-powered pizza oven sitting at room temperature.
“We had 25 pizzas for 12 o’clock, and then we had an order for 30 for this afternoon, and all that’s got to be canceled,” said co-owner Rosie Arevalo.
But the outage wasn’t necessarily bad for every business.
Across the street from Rosie’s, Davila’s BBQ was twice as busy as a typical Wednesday, said its co-owner, Adrian Davila, as diners with limited options headed their way.
The gas outage meant they couldn’t do anything fried, and they took mac and cheese off the menu Wednesday because they couldn’t boil pasta. But their pits worked just fine, powered on good ol’ fashioned hardwood.
“It all started with fire. And what you need is fire and heat to cook. You know, it’s pretty simple,” Davila said.
Though the gas outage has been good for business, Davila said, “it’s not always about money.”
“Of course, you know, it’s great for business in a monetary sense. You know, we’re welcome to have it. But as a community, we know a lot of people are frustrated,” he said.