Lessons Learned Of A Winter Storm
Last week's snow and ice storm crippled metro Atlanta for nearly five days. As business returns to normal, local entrepreneurs took away some lessons learned so that they can be better prepared in the future.
Last week’s snow and ice storm in Georgia and metro Atlanta certainly left its mark. Not to be forgotten in the years to come, area schools were closed the entire week, government offices shut down for the better part of the week and accidents galore pervaded the areas’ ice-slicked roads. There were news accounts of a person ice skating down Peachtree St., livestock getting stranded in a truck on I-285 and grocery stores running out of basic food items like milk and bread.
Dunwoody businesses weren’t immune to these problems either. The ice and slippery conditions got so bad that by Friday, when the first bit of serious thawing and melting occurred, one local Publix store at Abernathy Road and Roswell Road ran completely out of basic table salt. (For the record, this store did still have individual pre-filled salt shakers for sale.)
Doni Tamli, owner of Café Sababa Mediterranean Grill, said he had to close his store Monday through Wednesday because of the storm. When he reopened on Thursday, while business was good, he was still missing wine and a key food item – lamb– that couldn’t be delivered until Friday. All other items he’d stocked up on before the storm hit.
“I was prepared for the snow and this was not my first time,” Tamli said of the winter storm. “I knew what to expect and what would happen…I was just lucky the power didn’t go out.”
While Tamli wouldn’t attach a dollar amount to Café Sababa being closed the three days, he did say that, “It was a big dent.”
For Peter Anand, owner of the recently-opened Firkin and Gryphon, his operation did lose power on Monday. Because he couldn’t get enough staff to open the restaurant and pub, Firkin and Gryphon had to close that day. Anand said that while he did have an emergency action plan in place, he did learn a few things from the winter storm of 2011 and would now be changing his own plan as a result.
“I learned we need a back-up generator,” he said. “I’m getting on this now.”
Anand also learned he needs to secure nearby hotel rooms in the future for staff so they can remain close should the place need to open in a weather pinch. He estimated the economic hit as a result of being closed just the one day was $50,000.
“That affected us a lot because of the big game (the college football BCS national championship),” he said.
Unlike many places, they did open up on Tuesday, though.
“We were slam-packed with a lot of walk-in traffic because nobody could drive anywhere,” Anand said. “We did run out of things eventually, though.”
He said running out of supplies caused Firkin to have only about half the menu available until Friday when deliveries resumed and things returned to normal. Most patrons understood, though, he said.
That sentiment was shared by Brian Stanley, the General Manager of Taco Mac, which remained open during the entire winter storm. Because most places closed Monday, the Dunwoody location had record sales and crowds for the national championship football game between Auburn and Oregon.
“People thanked us for being open and having somewhere they could go to get something to eat,” Stanley said. “We learned it can be done. We learned that if people can get here safely, then it’s a benefit to the community for us to be open.”