Restaurant News & Reviews

Restaurants scramble to preserve food, serve customers while grappling with outage

Some shut down. Some stay open. Many fall somewhere in between: able to serve some food after a brief hiatus, if not with a full menu.

Restaurants in the outlying Sacramento region struggled to carry out business as usual in the midst of PG&E’s power shutdown, which could affect 800,000 customers by the time the utility company fully restores energy across California.

In the rural Yolo County town of Winters, Buckhorn Steakhouse, Putah Creek Cafe, Yolo Traders Bistro and Preserve were all open Thursday after being forced to close Wednesday. Putah Creek Cafe’s menu remained limited given the short prep time.

Auburn restaurant Monkey Cat wasn’t so lucky. The moderately upscale, slightly tiki-themed restaurant remained shut Thursday, forcing general manager Shannon Kee to cancel a wedding rehearsal dinner slated for that night.

Monkey Cat’s hourly employees won’t be paid as long as the restaurant remains closed, though Kee said she hoped to pick up a second generator and reopen Friday. Even with the restaurant’s lone generator being used to keep perishable food cold, Kee said Monkey Cat would likely lose at least $10,000 in revenue as a result of the shutdown.

“We want to be there for the people of Auburn, but unfortunately we can’t, so that’s kind of discouraging,” she said. “(PG&E gives) you such a broad range — it could be 48 hours or five days — and that doesn’t help.”

High-end Taste in Plymouth remained dark Thursday and won’t open until at least Friday night, according to its website. Several of its neighboring Amador County wineries face a financial prospect worse than a couple days without business, though.

The shutdown comes during harvest season and means grapes can’t be crushed and processed; wines that are aging also need power to remain cool, Cooper Vineyards winemaker Michael Roser told Fox40. Without an $80,000-$90,000 generator necessary to power the winery, Iron Hub Winery stands to lose tens of thousands of dollars in grapes, co-owner Beth Jones said to Good Day Sacramento.

The horizon became somewhat clearer when PG&E announced Thursday afternoon that Amador County had been given the “all clear” along with Alameda, Alpine, Calaveras, Mariposa, Merced, Monterey, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties. The utility will move forward with restoring power in those counties, though it’s unclear when they will fully be back on the grid.

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Benjy Egel covers local restaurants and bars for The Sacramento Bee as well as general breaking news and investigative projects. A Sacramento native, he previously covered business for the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas.