Power outage leaves downtown Sacramento diners in dark during lunch

A map of the power outage on SMUD’s website.
A map of the power outage on SMUD’s website.

A power outage struck a broad area of downtown Sacramento at the peak of the lunch hour Friday, forcing diners to finish their meals in the dark and restaurants to turn away some patrons.

Nearly 10,500 commercial and residential customers lost power at 12:28 p.m., according to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Power was restored to all but four of those downtown customers by 1:20 p.m.

Norman Kwong, manager of Nishiki Sushi on 16th and P streets, said his restaurant and surrounding businesses on the block lost their electricity at 12:30 p.m.

“We took all the sushi and put it in the freezer and shut the door, since the freezer stays cold for a long time,” Kwong said.

Kwong said customers who had already received their food before the power outage were understanding, and many stuck around to eat their lunch in the dark. Others who had not been served simply walked out, Kwong said.

Businesses not only lost potential customers, but they were unable to ring up customers who had already received food or services.

Adrian Lopez, an employee at Fit Eats at 1420 16th St. said because the health food restaurant rings up customers electronically, he was forced to turn away people who came in wanting to purchase pre-prepared food.

Luckily, Lopez added, power was restored 45 minutes after it was lost, so the outage’s effect on the restaurant was largely insignificant. Once power was restored at 1:20 p.m., business continued as normal, Lopez said.

Thai Canteen manager Judy Ratsavongsy said it was especially unfortunate that the power outage occurred in the middle of prime lunchtime at the 1501 16th St. eatery.

“We did lose a lot of customers,” Ratsavongsy said. “It was a popular lunch time, and it was on a Friday. We couldn’t ring anyone up.”

SMUD spokesman Chris Capra said crews were investigating what appeared to be an outage at a substation near Eighth and R streets where two transformer banks failed. The transformers send power from a transmission source to various distribution areas in the downtown area.

Capra said the cause of the failure has not been determined.