UPDATE: Learn how ongoing boil water advisory has some Austin businesses in ‘very difficult’ spot

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Update Oct. 24, 2:35 p.m.

The city of Austin’s boil water advisory, which may last another “handful of days” or as long as two weeks, presents a “very difficult” situation for local businesses, said Kent Cole, owner of Magnolia Cafe.

Both Magnolia Cafe locations, which are usually open 24 hours, closed Monday morning following Austin Water’s announcement of the advisory.

Cole said that his 170 employees have no work with the two cafe locations closed.

“It’s very difficult for people who have jobs for their place of business to not be open,” he said. “So many have families, they have kids.”

While many Austin restaurants and bars have remained open under the advisory—offering modified menus, limited drink options and bottled water—others have been forced to take more drastic steps because of their particular water needs.

Bouldin Creek Cafe in South Austin remains closed as a result of the advisory.

Other restaurants reopened on Tuesday after closing on Monday, including Hillside Farmacy and Whisler’s in East Austin, Holy Roller downtown, Jack Allen’s Kitchen on West Anderson Lane and Merit Coffee in the Seaholm District, after stockpiling boiled water, safe water or bottled water through various sources.

Ciclo and Live Oak, the recently opened restaurant and bar at the Four Seasons Hotel Austin, alerted guests to the local water emergency situation and sourced iced from outside the city, according to a company spokesperson. They are offering guests bottled water until the advisory is lifted.

Some larger chains and national companies have had to halt or modify their operations locally.

Austin Starbucks locations are not serving coffee drinks as a result of the advisory, limiting their offerings to bottled beverages and food items prepared off-site.

Breweries, with hot and cold liquor tanks typically used in the brewing process, are uniquely positioned to boil water in large quantities.

Black Star Coop in North Austin and St. Elmo Brewing Company in South Austin each posted on social media Monday to offer boiled water to area residents and local businesses in need.

“We have enough [for our own operations],” said Roger Corrales, a business team member at Black Star Coop, which is collectively owned and operated. “Let’s have people come in and get some water while they need it.”

Meanwhile, area grocery stores are also dealing with the advisory.

H-E-B, which is based in San Antonio, has dispatched over 275 trucks loaded with more than 4,000 pallets of water to Austin-area stores since Monday morning, according to a company spokesperson.

More deliveries are expected every hour and some stores have up to 40 pallets in stock.

Wheatsville Food Co-op, which operates two Austin locations, has reduced its prepared food options and suspended production in its produce, bakery and meat departments because of the advisory.

Businesses outside of the food service industry may also be affected by the advisory.

Palms Car Wash, which has two locations in North Austin, announced Monday that it will be closed until the city lifts its water restrictions, which took effect Monday morning and include prohibitions on car washing, both personal and commercial; irrigation; washing pavement and other surfaces; adding water to pools or spas; and the operation of ornamental fountains and ponds.

Another industry that is impacted by the boil water advisory includes spas and salons.

Managers at Lacquer Nail Salon, which has two locations in the city of Austin, decided Monday morning to transition all of the salon’s services to be soakless for water conservation and safety reasons, owner Carla Hatler said

“The last thing you want is water-borne bacteria entering a cut or abrasion,” Hatler wrote in an email.

While the salon locations always offer soakless manicures, in light of the advisory they will now offer soakless pedicures as well. This change will save up to 6,000 gallons of water a month, Hatley said.

“Our customers have been very supportive and have given us great feedback about the change,” she wrote.

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Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her reporting focuses include employment and economic development. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.
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