Severe Weather Events can mean opportunity for the properly prepared Restaurant Owner

I am resident of Connecticut and over the past three months we have been hit by two major storms, Hurricane Irene and recently Winter Storm Alfred. Hurricane Irene resulted in property damage along the coast line and power outages throughout the state,  as one would expect with a hurricane.  Freak snow storm Alfred, which dumped a 8 to 12 inches of snow in October, resulted in major tree damage across the state along with week long power outages.  Why because leaves were still on the trees snapping limbs under the weight of the snow fall. 
What struck me was not just the environmental aftermath of both events but the economic aftermath to small businesses. With over 70% of the state without power for more than 3 days, families were struggling to find gas and food. What dawned on me was the businesses, especially the restaurants and pizza houses that had generators, were making a killing and rightfully so. The number one thing people need during events like this is food and their sanity. Both can be found in their comfortable neighborhood restaurant.  

My favorite restaurant, Piatti Ristornate & Bar, had a free all you can eat dinner party shortly after Irene.  The purpose was to make good use of all the food in the walkin that was going to spoil due to the power outages. The owners cooked up the inventory in their gas ovens by candle light and we all enjoyed the free feast, complements of Hurricane Irene (and their insurance claim).  

Things were different with Alfred. This time the owners were prepared and had a generator and were able to open for business the day after the storm.  Traffic was brisk and increased each night longer the power was out.  When people ran out of food at home or just simply couldn't take siting in the dark any longer they came out in droves.  As world spread that Piatti's was open a lot of new faces showed up resulting in a many new customers. The exposure was excellent. 

The $1,200 investment in a generator not only prevented inventory spoilage but increased business, drove in new customers and was a public relations boom. 
As climate changes becomes part of our reality it's worth the investment and preparation to turn lemons into lemonade. 

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Tags: Restaurants, inventory, marketing, weather

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