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Berkeley businesses lose big bucks in lengthy power outage

CBS SF Bay Area 3/26/2023 Da Lin

BERKELEY -- Businesses are once again preparing for another atmospheric river system forecast to reach the Bay Area Monday night. Some East Bay businesses are still recovering from this past Tuesday's destructive storm.

On Tuesday a downed tree knocked out power and Internet for many businesses on Solano Avenue in Berkeley. The outage lasted from Tuesday evening to Thursday.

Delirama, acclaimed by some as having the best pastrami sandwich in the East Bay, is still closed due to that storm.

"I hope they come back soon because we were looking forward to it today," said David Blum, a loyal Delirama customer.

Blum was one of many hungry customers disappointed by the sign posted in front of Delirama which read simply "no power, no pastrami :(" 

"It's juicy, it's got some good fat on it. Just tastes really nice with the toasted rye bread," Blum said.

Delirama's co-owners Cash Caris and Anahita Cann hope to reopen the popular restaurant by next Thursday.

"For the next three weeks, we're going to go back into pop-up mode and we're going to do something fun," Caris said.

They won't have the customer-favorite pastrami for at least another month because the power outage caused them to lose all of their perishable items in the refrigerator, including 2,000 pounds of brisket used to make the pastrami.

Caris and Cann said it typically takes them a few weeks to brine the meat to make it tender and delicious.

"I know a lot of people are bummed out because we don't have pastrami right now but the community has been so good to us and I know they're going to come out and support us and help us stay open because this is such a tragic loss for us. This is $100,000 in revenue that we're not going to have to pay our bills," Caris said.

As of Saturday, supporters have donated more than $15,000 to Delirama via an online fundraiser. They plan to use the money to buy a powerful generator for their walk-in refrigerator to prevent a similar future setback.

"Before we received the support, I almost thought that it may be the nail in the coffin for us to, potentially, close which was something that I didn't want to think about too much. But it was definitely on my mind," Cann said.

Their neighbors lost money as well. Many Solano Avenue businesses shut down from Tuesday afternoon to Thursday.

"There was nobody on Solano Ave at all. Everybody knew the power was out and nobody was here so there wasn't any money coming in for a couple of days and it was going to make it hard. March is always a slim month 'cause everybody is saving up for their taxes. So having that little extra lack of income makes it just that much harder," said Saul Schumsky at Stoll Custom Framing on Solano Avenue.

Schumsky did not think a prolonged power outage would hurt his framing business too much.

"I was shocked 'cause I think of myself as mostly using hand tools," Schumsky said.

No lights, no computer and no internet forced Schumsky to shut down until service was restored late Thursday.

"We're doing very fine detailed work and so we need a pretty bright light to make sure that we've made all the corners right and we've touched everything up and we've cleaned all the dust out," Schumsky explained.

As for the 8-month-old restaurant Delirama, Caris and Cann believe that, with the help of their customers, they can weather the storms.

"This is what keeps us going, is knowing that all of our loyal customers are going to come in and they're going to enjoy everything that we do," Caris said.

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