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Long Power Outages Cost Restaurants Thousands

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Owners at Salutos Italian Restaurant in Gurnee had to throw out $20,000 to $30,000 of spoiled food after going more than two days without power in the wake of a thunderstorm on Monday, July 11, 2011. (Credit: CBS)

Owners at Salutos Italian Restaurant in Gurnee had to throw out $20,000 to $30,000 of spoiled food after going more than two days without power in the wake of a thunderstorm on Monday, July 11, 2011. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – This week’s major storm has been a nightmare for residents, with thousands of homeowners going more than 48 hours without power. But imagine owning a restaurant and having no power for more than two days. Imagine the mess and the smell of all the spoiling food.

That’s the reality for Robert Bode, co-owner of Salutos Italian Restaurant in Gurnee. He had no choice but to toss out thousands of pounds of spoiled food, costing him $20,000 to $30,000.

As CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports, the owners of Salutos have been dealing with a large loss of food, on top of two days of lost business.

On a Wednesday night, there are usually 200 people at the restaurant for dinner, but that won’t be happening this Wednesday, because the restaurant has been closed since Monday’s storm.

Entire trays of mozzarella, box after box of chicken wings and Italian sausage were tossed into a dumpster behind the restaurant on Wednesday.

Co-owner Melody Body said, “It’s sad. It’s just really sad.”

Salutos has been without power since Monday morning. Thousands of pounds of food – with a price tag ranging from $20,000 to $30,000 – has all gone to waste. The walk-in freezer was empty on Wednesday.

“We’ve been inventorying food product, to make sure we’re hopefully going to get covered by insurance and we just started finishing up,” Robert Bode said. “It’s unbelievable, just the devastation, you know, the cost.”

Salutos has been a fixture in Gurnee for two decades.

“On a Friday or Saturday night, we probably do three, four hundred people, so you can kind of calculate that into dollars,” Robert Bode said. “And without that, I don’t know if insurance will cover something like that for loss of income there or not.”

ComEd has said it is not reimbursing its customers for spoiled food due to power outages, since the outages were caused by a storm – an act of nature – and not from actions taken by ComEd.

While some who work at Salutos have been coming in to help with the cleanup, there are some who have stayed home and won’t return until the restaurant reopens.

“For our employees, the lack of income, the lack of income for Salutos, you know. It’s tough,” Robert Bode said.

The owners also said they do a lot of catering this time of year, so they’re missing out on those opportunities right now, as well. They’ve been told the power will be back on in another two to three days.

They said they’re just being patient while they wait.

Melody Bode said she does see one silver lining for her employees. All the pastas and sauces are homemade. That means lots of overtime for the workers who will need to get the restaurant up and running again, when the power finally comes back.

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