Restaurants working to overcome latest water challenge in Jackson

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 10:01 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson restaurants have been adjusting how they keep their doors open for hungry customers for 32 days while dealing with water problems.

Now, with the water crisis becoming even more severe because of a lack of water pressure, restaurant owners say it’s an uphill battle to serve customers.

“It’s insulting. It’s un-American. I don’t understand it. It’s 2022, and we should have drinkable water,” said Malcolm White, the owner of Hal and Mal’s.

When the lunch bell rang, hungry customers were left searching for places that hadn’t closed because of Jackson’s water crisis.

“We usually get our lunch right downstairs,” said Linda Pelly, who works in Jackson. “Both those restaurants are closed, and we’re like, ‘Okay, where can we go?’”

For weeks, restaurants like the Manship and Broad Street Baking Company have purchased hundreds of cases of water in order to stay open.

However, with no water pressure in some businesses, owners like Alex Eaton are getting creative.

“We had to call our friends in low places,” Eaton said. “I brought in a porta john for the center. We’ve had to go get a water truck last night, [I] went to my parent’s house [and] filled it up with that beautiful Ridgeland water.”

White says they’re open for now, but they’ve adjusted minute by minute.

“Yesterday evening, at around five o’clock, we had almost no water pressure, and we were forced to close last night. This morning when I came in, we had water,” said White. “I made the decision to let’s try to open and see what happens.”

However, White says that mode of operation is not sustainable.

“It’s very expensive to be open right now, and the paradox is, we’re open, but we’re losing money. I’m so busy surviving that I haven’t had time to sit down and analyze how deep the well is,” White said.

Eaton says he and other owners still hold out hope the crisis will end soon, especially as state leaders step in.

“I think you have to hit rock bottom before they do it, and unfortunately, I think we’ve been swimming down here for a while. We’re hopelessly optimistic that we will be in a good position when we get out of this,” Eaton said.

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