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The Examiner Clips — Boil Order

*Note: This package of clips highlights feature, investigative and breaking news 

journalism I produced as a reporter for The Examiner in Independence, Mo, in 

2007.

 

May 9, 2007 

Section: News

Boil order takes toll on area restaurants 

James A. Foley 

james.foley@examiner.net 

An unexpected boil order that went into effect at dawn Tuesday put a stopper on the operations of numerous businesses in Independence as sales of bottled water soared and many residents went without their morning cup of coffee.

Phones rang unanswered at several area restaurants, and many store managers were leery to speak with the media. A manager at the 23rd Street Hy-Vee, who only identifed himself as “Bob,” said that the grocery store is “selling a whole lot of bottled water,” but refused to comment on how the store’s back-of-house kitchen and bakery operations or their produce sprinkler system were affected by the boil order, which deems any tap water that has not been boiled for at least three minutes unsafe for drinking or use in any food preparation.

The store director for Hy-Vee could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon. Managers at both Independence Price Chopper grocery stores declined to comment. Calls to McKeever Enterprises, owner of Price Chopper, were not immediately returned. Employees at Richard’s Sunfresh grocery said that they’ve been “incredibly busy” selling bottled water. Jeremy Young, who works in the Sunfresh produce department, said the store shut off the produce sprinkler system and used bottled water to keep the produce hydrated.

The effects of the boil order hinder the operations of many restaurants. Ice cubes cannot be used in drinks, water for coffee and tea must be held at a steady boil before use and washing produce was a challenge for many operations.

QuikTrip stores in Independence were not serving coffee Tuesday. All Taco Bell restaurants in Independence were closed. Independence Pizza Hut stores, also owned by Taco Bell parent company Yum! Brands, were open Tuesday. A pizza delivery driver who answered the phone said that Taco Bell stores use more water than Pizza Huts, hence their closure. He said Pizza Hut does not serve fountain drinks and their dishwashing equipment was safe to use. The store manager declined to comment. A phone call to Lexington, Ky., based Yum! Brands was not returned. Ray Blackman, general manager of Ophelia’s on the Independence Square, said the boil order mainly affected the restaurant’s beverage supply. He said they purchased about 240 bottles of water Tuesday morning and did not serve coffee or tea or have ice cubes.

“Everybody seemed to be cooperative,” he said, “They knew it wasn’t our problem.” Blackman said it was more costly to the business to provide free bottled water in place of usually free tap water, but that he didn’t want to penalize their customers. The restaurant’s dishwashing operations were also affected. The automatic dishwasher could not be used and dishes had to be washed by hand in disinfected three-compartment sinks. Blackman said that hand-washing the dishes took twice as much time as it would otherwise. “Other than just being a real pain, we were able to compensate,” he said. Mary Bauer, assistant manager at Courthouse Exchange, also said that their beverage service was affected by the boil order, but other than not having ice, fountain drinks, tea or coffee, their operations have run smoothly. She said much of the restaurant’s produce was prepped the day before and did not run risk of being contaminated. She said bottled water was used to wash any produce prepped Tuesday.

“We were up at 6 a.m. working on it. It didn’t effect the frst day, we were prepared,” Bauer said. “We just plan on making another run to the store in the morning to get more bottled water.”

Copyright 2007, 2008 The Examiner, All Right Reserved.


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