Restaurants, bars scramble to deal with Portland's boil water alert

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Many restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in Portland scrambled to stay open on Friday as a holiday weekend approached.

Some closed for the day, while others won't reopen until the city's boil water order is lifted.

Roughly 670,000 homes and businesses are affected. That means tap water used for drinking, cooking, or brushing your teeth needs to be boiled for a least one minute.

Bars and restaurants had to throw out all of their ice because they weren't sure when it was made. Piles of ice could be seen on streets around the city.

Restaurants and pubs also had to stock up some of the other essentials.

"The biggest supplies we need to come up with are ice bottled water, soda so we can make cocktails with obviously, and then we have to limit our menu to what we can serve customers to make sure that they're not getting things that are being used with water that may have been tainted," said Sheila Scott, a management consultant for Brasserie Montmartre in Downtown Portland.

Scott said the restaurant had to also throw away all of the vegetables that had been prepared Thursday night for use on Friday. Those vegetables were rinsed with tap water before the city announced the boil water notice.

"It causes a little bit of panic on our end because we have to run around and get supplies in order to stay open and create a safe environment for the customers."

She said this is the third time she remembers Brasserie being affected by a citywide boil order.

"Well, you get more experience under your belt, you know to start in the outlying areas and start buying all the supplies as fast as you can," Scott explained.

Employees at Brasserie made three different trips to three different stores in the Portland metro area looking for supplies. Ice was the greatest get.

"The first run was 15, 20 pound bags. This last run was more than that. And I have someone else coming, so I don't know," said Scott.

Bottled water is being served by request only because Brasserie has a limited supply.

"We're trying to suggest a cocktail or a drink or a soda," Scott explained.

Nikki Andres-Bye, and three of her friends, came to Portland from Vancouver on Friday night for a "girls' night". They were unaware of the boil water order. It didn't faze Andres-Bye.

"I've traveled in lots of different countries. I'm not concerned about the water. If they're advertising that the water and ice is fine here then I believe it," explained Andres-Bye.

Church bar in Northeast Portland decided to open Friday night, but without any ice. They served up drinks "neat" or people drank beer.

Other places decided to not take any risks and closed on Friday.

Stumptown Coffee tweeted all of its locations are closed until further notice.

Deschutes Brewery in The Pearl District also closed. Dozens of people stopped by for dinner on Friday night to find chairs up on tables, a closed sign on the front door, and an empty dining room. Deschutes tweeted it will reopen for normal business hours on Saturday.

Any way you look at it, the effect of the water crisis is trickling down to just about everyone. For businesses, like bars and restaurants that rely on water for much of the products they offer to customers, there are thousands of dollars on the line.

"We'll get through tonight and then we'll see what our supplies are for tomorrow and see if we can find more supplies and we'll get through that day too," said Scott.