Austin restaurants face boil water notice

Austin restaurants under boil water notice look for ways to stay open while keeping customers safe. 

The biggest struggle for restaurant owners and managers right now is how to safely wash vegetables. While some are using bottled water to do so, others have pulled all their fresh vegetables from the menu until the notice is lifted.

Customers hoping for coffee or food at many Austin restaurants were greeted by closures Monday. 

“It was a surprise walking in there and not finding any coffee,” said Norma Cortes who lives and works in Austin. 

Service industry professionals woke up to find an email from the City of Austin warning them not to use water straight from the tap for anything really. 

“We found out the city sent an email out to all restaurants that kind of went over what the city is asking us to do, and kind of what we need to be on the lookout for, as far as food safety is concerned,” said Aaron Morris, general manager of Iron Works Barbecue.  

For some the notice came too late to salvage Monday’s sales. 

“So we've basically been here all morning and into the afternoon boiling water in preparation for tomorrow. I didn't want to do anything that would risk their safety. I didn't want to mess anything up,” said Tyler Schaffer, general manager of Fat Cats Coffee and Desserts.  

Others found a way to operate with a limited menu. 

“Until we get a new flow of water going, we just decided we weren't going to start the day with a salad bar. We had already washed the vegetables when we found out, so we just pulled them all, trashed them all, and we've made arrangements for safe water, both boiling and bringing water in,” Morris said.

Black Star Co-op was already ahead of the game while boiling water as part of their brewing process. 

“We pushed back our beer schedule today so we could have more water available in the tanks,” said Jodi Mozeika, business team leader at Black Star Co-op.  

With a few hundred gallons of freshly boiled water, they decided to use what they needed, donate some to the Austin Humane Society, and make the rest available to the community. 

“If you guys need some water, come on, we've got plenty of it right now,” Mozeika said.  

Restaurant owners said they are trying to make it work for now, but they hope the boil water notice is lifted soon. 

“I would love to see the city knock this one out pretty quickly. it is an unprecedented event we've been dealing with,” said Morris.