Businesses Bouncing Back Months after Water Crisis

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Businesses were hit hard by the water crisis in January when a chemical spill at Freedom Industries contaminated the water supply for about 300,000 people. Now, they’re finally in the recovery stage.

When an opportunity opened up, Frank Gonzales and his wife jumped at it. It's something that four months ago, didn't seem possible.

“It was a big blow to us,” Gonzales said about the water crisis.

They're restaurant, Mi Cocina De Amor (My Kitchen of Love), had to shut its doors for an entire week -- along with hundreds of other businesses.

They're opening a second location at what was once Thelma Fay's Café, a restaurant that was forced to close because of the chemical spill.

“We were more proactive than reactive. We went back with a plan. We started cooking with bottled water right away,” Gonzales said.

Anna Pollitt owns the Quarrier Diner, which suffered about a $15,000 loss due to the chemical spill.

“It took a good three weeks to get our customer base back up to where it was worth having two servers,” Pollit said.

Now, she's back at full staff, but says there's still a lot of hard work to dish out.

“I do think we have a large hurdle to overcome, but we're strong and we can handle it” Pollitt said.

It was the same story at several other restaurants where owners weren't available to talk on camera. However, managers say they are beginning to bounce back.

“People are understanding,” Gonzales said. “I think this community really pulled together during the water crisis. That's one of the reasons we found success, I think, because we were part of that.”

Many restaurants are now back to normal as far as the number of customers they serve.

However, some say their profits still aren’t where they should be, because they’re still spending additional money to continue cooking with bottled water.

Owners of those restaurants say they're just not ready to serve anything made with tap water to their customers.

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