Wichita restaurants meet challenge to stay open during boil water advisory
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - While Wichtans boil their water, or stock up on bottles of water from the grocery store, the City of Wichita is waiting on test results to determine if the water is safe to drink again.
City officials say they have a high level of confidence those tests were collected properly, and hope the Kansas Department of Health and Environment will rescind the advisory once those results are ready in 24 hours.
It may be an inconvenience for most people, but it creates large challenges for the food service industry. While some bars, restaurants and cafes closed due to the water situation, others chose to work through it.
“I don’t have pop, don’t have a lot of ice, but I can get you cold water and cold beer,” said Chris Arnold, owner of River City Brewing Company.
Arnold said the equipment at RCBC can heat up more than 500 gallons of water at a time, all they have to do is put it in kegs and chill it. On Wednesday, the brewery was even able to give out kegs to other businesses across town.
“Obviously, I can only help so many. But we found a handful of people we know in the industry, other restaurants and bars, and asked if they could use some water on tap and they said yes,” he said.
Ashley King, the owner of Sojourner Coffee House in west Wichita, said it was a similar process just on a smaller scale.
“The water for our coffee and Espresso is run through a reverse osmosis system, which is held at above 200 degrees so it’s all safe to use. Then we brought in bagged ice and are using bottled water for drinks that use regular water,” King said.
While it takes some extra effort, it does have its benefits.
“We’ve had a lot of people here this morning that haven’t been here before since their regular shop is closed,” said King.
Arnold at River City said the challenges can bring the industry even closer together.
“People don’t want to close. Those servers, bartenders, dishwashers, cooks are all trying to make a living. So, if there’s a few of them we could help stay open, that was the goal,” he said.
Again the boil order could be lifted or at least scaled back by midnight for the City of Wichita. For other communities that get their water from Wichita, like Andover, Derby and Valley Center, it may take longer because they have to take their own samples.
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