August 11, 2022

Jackson restaurateurs call on elected officials during water crisis

Darkhorse Press

Photo by Jason Jarrach on Unsplash

Over 46 restaurant owners, operators and chefs have signed a letter sent to Jackson city, Hinds county and Mississippi state elected officials detailing the rigorous efforts restaurants put forth to remain open under Jackson boil water notices.

The letter notes that the city of Jackson has had two water outages and has been under three boil water notices in just 16 months.

Restaurateurs see a dramatic drop in sales with each water issue, as customers choose to dine in other cities fearing Jackson restaurant service to be unsafe. Meanwhile, Jackson restaurant management and staff work ceaselessly to ensure the safety of their diners and employees by:

● Obtaining ice from water safe sources – sometimes as far away as Meridian, MS
● Boiling and/or purchasing water to prepare food and drink items, to wash pots, pans, dishes and utensils, and even to comply with basic food safety – to wash hands
● Purchasing canned soft drinks, as their fountain soda machines are inoperable
● Many times stopping coffee and tea service completely, as the water for each must be boiled prior to brewing

In a press conference held by Jackson restaurant owners and operators and the Mississippi Hospitality & Restaurant Association on August 8, MHRA Executive Director Pat Fontaine stated that restaurants are spending $500 – $700 or more each day on additional items in order to serve diners safely.

Chef Pierre Pryer Sr. of Iron Horse Grill mentioned the mental stress employees endure with additional physically taxing work duties and longer hours. When Steven O’Neill of The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen and Aplos Simple Mediterranean said he had been approached by commercial property owners with offers to move his businesses out of Jackson, he asked the other restaurateurs at the press conference who had received similar offers – everyone raised their hands.

The letter sent to city, county and state officials states, “We need transparency,” and, “Some cities had to have deaths from dysentery or cholera before action was taken. We pray it won’t take something as tragic as that to lead to solutions in our city.”

The signed restaurant owners and operators plead with officials for a solution to the ongoing Jackson water crisis, pointing out that there are not enough financial resources to remain operational under the circumstances for an extended period. With inflation, a staffing shortage and supply chain issues still burdening the restaurant industry, Jackson restaurants are at serious risk of closing their doors.

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