Power outage cost restaurants thousands

It was not a very rosy Valentine’s Day for Burlingame restaurants, who lost tens of thousands of dollars when power was cut in the middle of one of their biggest nights of the year.

Nor is it likely to be a very sweetly remembered one by Caltrain or Burlingame, each of which is blaming the other for the outage — and one of which may have to pay the restaurants back for their losses.

Power was cut off to more than 3,000 homes and businesses last Thursday night after a man was jolted as he touched an electrified fence at the Burlingame Caltrain station. The fence was surrounding a construction area at the station, which is being renovated.

A <a title="PG&E Corporation" href="/Subject-PG%26E_Corporation.html" target="_blank" onClick="var s=s_gi('examinercom'); s.tl(this,'o','Inline Entity Link'); " >Pacific Gas & Electric investigation determined a line supplying power to a city lamppost was touching a pile of rebar at the Caltrain construction site, and the rebar passed the charge to the fence, company spokesman Joe Molica said. The man survived the shock, but PG&E immediately turned off power to the downtown area.

Who is responsible for the problem is still up for debate. Caltrain spokesman Jonah Weinberg said that the city’s streetlamp circuit had shorted, and it was “just fortuitous” that the rebar was nearby.

But Burlingame’s Public Works Director Syed Martuza said the problem wouldn’t have occurred if the construction materials hadn’t been there.

Neither Burlingame nor Caltrain officials said they are investigating the matter any further, since they don’t believe they are to blame for it.

Caught in the middle are restaurants such as Straits, which lost an estimated $10,000 and wants to recuperate some of those losses from whomever is responsible.

“It’s the biggest night of the year for us besides New Years. We had 200 people in the restaurant when the power went out,” said Jason Sanders, general manager of Straits.

Nearby brewery Burlingame Station lost between $5,000 and $8,000 from the outage and Italian restaurant Il Fornaio lost an estimated $15,000, employees at those restaurants said. Both restaurants also plan to file claims to recover their losses, they said.

Managers of all the restaurants said they just hope they don’t get stuck with the bill for the power outage.

“It made us look pretty bad, even though it wasn’t our fault,” Sanders said.

kworth@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The City is seeking to enhance health care for San Francisco International Airport workers, which include more than 100 who have tested positive for COVID-19. <ins>(Courtesy photo)</ins>
Airlines, business groups fight new health insurance requirements for SFO workers

Heathy Airport Ordinance would require companies to offer family coverage or increase contributions

The Hall of Justice building at 850 Bryant St. is notorious for sewage leaks and is known to be seismically unsafe. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFPD speeding up Hall of Justice exit after another ‘large leak’

San Francisco police can’t get out of the decrepit Hall of Justice… Continue reading

The main entrance to Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Voting rights of seniors, disabled must be protected

Coronavirus pandemic adds new challenges for accessing the polls

The Telegraph Quartet is pictured during its SF Music Day 2020 recording session at the striking, beautifully lit and almost empty Herbst Theatre. (Courtesy Marcus Phillips)
SF Music Day goes virtual with Herbst broadcast

Performers pre-record sets in empty, iconic theater

Dr. Vincent Matthews, superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, said Tuesday that student would not be back in school before the end of this calendar year. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Superintendent: City schools will not reopen before the end of the year

San Francisco public schools won’t reopen to students for the rest of… Continue reading

Most Read