ASHEVILLE – Grove Arcade businesses that were forced to close due to a gas leak at the downtown mall have resumed operations, but not without some businesses experiencing a significant loss of revenue after several days of shuttered.
“On (June 5), we had to close the restaurant in the middle of dinner service with a full house. We had guest dishes on the gas range that had to be finished in the wood fired pizza oven,” Hector Diaz, Modesto chef and owner, said in an email. “Many of our guests who were already seated (about 27 people) were unable to receive service. We had to turn away an additional 25-50 guests via reservations and walk-ins. We have also had to cancel the entire week’s worth of reservations.”
Diaz estimated a $35,000 loss in revenue for Modesto.
On June 5, Grove Arcade, a historic commercial and residential property at 1 Page Ave., was evacuated after a gas leak was detected and reported by employees of its property management company, Altamus.
The Asheville Fire Department was dispatched around 3 pm, according to spokesperson Kelley Klope. Respondents of Dominion Energy, as well, and the crews investigated and found the source of the gas leak in external underground pipes, and the gas was turned off, according to Wes Reinhardt, president of Altamus.
Workers, guests and residents were evacuated during this time.
Plumbing contractors were employed for the multiday project to resolve the issue, Reinhardt said, which required excavating the sidewalk on the side of the building at O. Henry Avenue, in front of Bebettes: A New Orleans Coffeehouse.
Several businesses, including restaurants and retail shops, were mandated to close while work continued, as it called for gas service to be disconnected.
On June 13, Reinhardt said in an email that the gas leak was repaired. Contractors were still on-site the next day.
“The sidewalk needs to be poured back still, but the gas infrastructure is operating normally,” Reinhardt said. “We are grateful for the cooperation of our tenants and the team that worked overtime to get the repair completed.”
Restaurants that closed during the incident included Baba Nahm, Bebettes: A New Orleans Coffeehouse, Burgerworx, Carmel’s Kitchen and Bar, Huli Sue’s BBQ and Grill, and Modesto.
As of the afternoon of June 9, the affected Grove Arcade businesses were permitted to reopen and were back in operation, Reinhardt said.
Although the gas service was restored on that Friday, Modesto, a modern Italian bistro, didn’t reopen until the following Monday, June 12, Diaz said.
Grove Arcade opened in 1929 and renovated and reopened in 2002. It has served as a military base, a national weather records center, and a shopping center with upper-level residential apartments.
For nearly 19 years, Modesto has been open and is one of Grove Arcade’s oldest tenants, Diaz said.
“We are coming to find out that gas leaks are an ongoing issue in the Grove Arcade,” Diaz said.
Modesto was not Diaz’s first business that he had suffered.
“In the past, we lost a restaurant called Chorizo because of that issue,” Diaz said. “They said that the gas leak was coming from us. However it is now apparent that it is an issue larger than any small business tenants in the building.”
In 2016, Chorizo, a pan-Latin restaurant, had its lease terminated by Grove Arcade management reportedly due to an employee accidentally leaving a gas stove on overnight.
As for this month’s problem, Diaz estimated the food loss totaled $5,000-$8,000 from June 5-8, with more disposed food to account for amid the additional Friday closure. The revenue loss for the week was estimated at nearly $35,000.
Modesto’s staff of about 25 individuals had been out of work since June 6 until the business reopened nearly a week later, Diaz said.
“We are hoping that the Grove Arcade will help us with the situation so that we can take care of our business,” he said.
Diaz said he was told by Altamus to contact its insurance company regarding the lost revenue.
“Our insurance informed us that we will not be able to recover lost revenue since there was no direct damage to our rental space,” Diaz said.
Asheville Proper, a steakhouse that uses live fire to cook, and Well-Bred Bakery and Café, which uses electric appliances, were among the businesses that were permitted to reopen once the all-clear message was given after the Monday night evacuation.
Well-Bred’s general manager Laura Bogard Taylor said the on-duty employee at its Grove Arcade location and the café guests evacuated the building.
Within an hour, the bakery café and other tenants not directly affected by the gas cut-off were allowed to reopen while gas-reliant tenants, such as restaurants that used gas stoves, were unable to function, Taylor said.
Well-Bred’s Grove Arcade store has been open for nearly two years, and Taylor said she was unaware of any gas leaks before the recent incident.
Altamus was “very communicative” about the incident and provided updates on the time frame through an email listserv of the property’s retail merchants association, Taylor said.
“They were actually up and running sooner than expected. I know TP Howard, the plumbers that they hired. I think they worked through the night to get the job done. They were our little heroes in that aspect,” Taylor said.
More restaurant news to read:
- A former Greyhound bus station-turned-cocktail lounge opens soon in Asheville. Find out more about its grand opening here.
- Find out what’s planned for a new rooftop pizzeria and restaurant bar opening in Asheville here.
- Save the date for upcoming downtown dining events and programs and visit two new coffee shops in Asheville. Get the details here.
Tiana Kennell is the food and dining reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter/Instagram @PrincessOfPage. Please support this type of journalism with asubscription to the Citizen Times.