Local businesses deliver water to help Austin restaurants stay open

Many restaurants in Austin are finding ways to stay open while the boil water notice is in place, but it didn't hurt to get a little help from other local businesses. 

When Lucky Arrow Retreat in Dripping Springs heard about Austin’s city-wide boil water notice, they wanted to do what they could to help. When city leaders issued the boil water notice, it was a shock to restaurant owners all over Austin. “So, Monday, I sent a text to my staff and told them, ‘This is what's going on, I have no idea what we're going to do, but just know I'm working on a plan and I'll see you at the restaurant,’” said Sharon Mays, owner of Baby Greens restaurant.  

Mays quickly ordered pre-washed lettuce and bought a portable burner and pot so she could start boiling water. She hasn't stopped since. “Oh God, I'm so ready for it to end,” Mays said.  

It's the only way she can keep her business running. “I really realized that if we were not open, it was going to be a really big problem for my staff,” said Mays.  

Days later, Baby Greens has mostly gotten ahead of the problem. 

“Tuesday, I literally boiled water from 7am till 8pm,” Mays said. Still, a little help goes a long way. Friday that help arrived in a 1983 Land Cruiser from Dripping Spring's future boutique hotel, Lucky Arrow Retreat. “I was surprised a lot of people haven't been offered water by anybody, so it was really nice to be able to surprise them with it,” said Michelle Marks, director of sales for Lucky Arrow Retreat.

“It's really been great to get that donation of water in, because we're hearing that on Sunday, potentially, the boil water is going to be lifted, but we don't know,” Mays said.  

Lucky Arrow has dropped off 60 donated cases of Richard’s Rainwater to Austin restaurants, like Baby Greens. “We're a local business, too. We aren't open, we're not opening till the Spring, but we were thinking the same thing, ‘If this happened to us, we're running a hotel, what would we do?’” said Marks.

All over the city, restaurant owners and managers are getting crafty to stay operational. John Lee, manager of College Roadhouse, is making soup with bottled water, while boiling water to rinse any cooking utensils. 

“We are frustrated. I'm pretty sure every manager and owner is frustrated, as well. It is slowing down our business, but we’ve got to take care of our guests and make sure they’re in good health,” Lee said.

However, for now, business owners can only hope the boil water notice will actually be lifted Sunday.

“I know the city is really asking people to conserve. We're doing our very best to use as little water as possible, but I think, as soon as that ban is lifted, I will probably get the biggest glass of ice water available and just chug it,” said Mays. 

Even while dealing with her own struggles during the boil water event, Mays said she is waiting for the day she can help others. “As much as it's been a tough week for us, at least we're open, and I feel very thankful that we've been able to be open. So, I look forward to getting out there and supporting those businesses that haven't been open because they need us,” Mays said.