Confusion reigned among Chapel Hill businesses Friday, as every restaurant and bar using water administered by the Orange Water and Sewer Authority was ordered to close its doors after a water treatment plant was shut down and a major water main broke.
All along Franklin Street, businesses were in the dark, and so were the people running them.
Meg McGurk, executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said her organization was asked to go door-to-door to tell businesses that they needed to close. In downtown Chapel Hill alone, about 90 restaurants and bars were affected.
“We will be ready to help out the area’s restaurants once they are allowed to open again,” McGurk said.
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Kristen Smith, vice president for government and community relations at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber was similarly spreading the word to all of its members.
The popular He’s Not Here bar on Franklin Street normally would be buzzing with undergraduates on a Friday afternoon.
“This really couldn’t have happened at a worse time,” said Fleming Fuller, general manager of He’s Not Here. “We didn’t have running water a couple weekends ago for the Florida State game because of all the construction around us. So this is the second time we have dealt with something like this with OWASA.
At Might as Well Bar & Grill, a new business on Franklin Street, customers sat at the bar and were still being served beers, though the kitchen had been closed.
Down Franklin Street toward Durham, the Whole Foods Market had a sign on its doors that read “CLOSED due to the Water Shortage.”
A stream of confused patrons tried to enter the store, only to be rebuffed by the message.
Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684