Water shut-off forces restaurants to close for Father’s Day weekend

Country Coney owner, Scott Pike gestures to the tap he was unable to use over the weekend. Photo by J. Hanlon

By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
Just one week after reopening, Country Coney owner Scott Pike learned he would have to temporarily close again.
A hand-delivered boil-water advisory from the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office (WRC) notified him his restaurant would be without water Saturday, June 20, while crews hooked up a new water main in conjunction with the M-24 construction project.
The notice surprised Pike, who has owned the breakfast-lunch restaurant at 1040 S. Lapeer Rd. since 1982. “A couple days’ notice is not a big notice. It would have been nice to have a little bit more of a heads up,” Pike said.
Whenever a water system loses pressure, bacteria can contaminate the water. Once the work is finished, WRC must flush the water system and collect bacteria samples. It can take a couple days for the results to come back. WRC said it could be as soon as Monday, but it could take longer.
As a precautionary measure, all water customers in the affected area were advised to boil water used for drinking and cooking until the notice is lifted.
“Drinking water should be boiled for at least one minute and allowed to cool before consumption,” the notice advised.
That meant if Pike wanted to open on Sunday, he would have to use boiled or bottled water for drinking, making ice, washing dishes and preparing food.
“I’d have to buy ice, I’d have to buy pop, I can’t run my dish machine. It’s too much,” Pike said.
Country Coney closed completely during the stay-at-home order. It didn’t seem worth it to do carry-outs, Pike said, because they close at 3 p.m. every day and are not open for dinner.
Since reopening, business had been slow all week. They were counting on the weekend, especially since Sunday was Father’s Day. “We were thinking we were going to be busy, and now we can’t open.”
MDOT construction engineer Brian Travis told this reporter the work was scheduled for a weekend to be “off-peak hours” for businesses.
Pike talked to MDOT about it himself. “My point was why not do it on a Monday or Tuesday? It would be nice if it wasn’t on a weekend.”
Country Coney was not the only address affected. The notice was sent to two residential addresses and five food service businesses around the Drahner and Lapeer Rd. (M-24) intersection.
Country Coney’s neighbor to the south, Italia Gardens, managed to stay open for carry-out and catering, however.
“It’s hard right now,” Italia Gardens owner Monika Klimek said. During the coronavirus closures, carry-out business was down 50 percent from normal business. Since construction began, business is down to one third.
As the construction project moves forward, north of Drahner, Travis does not anticipate any more major water shut-offs, but he is not certain. They may have to tie in service lines for individual businesses or residences, he said.

Country Coney on the front lines of M-24 construction.

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