Houston Chronicle

Texas restaurant­s tossing spoiled food after blackouts

- By Leslie Patton

Mass blackouts across Texas are forcing restaurant­s to give away or trash quickly expiring food, while supply lines remain all but blocked due to dangerous roads.

At Tarka Indian Kitchen, a chain with eight locations in the state, fresh veggies and meat are being discarded after the chain was shuttered for days. The same is true for Coolgreens, which sells salads and sandwiches, while Milkshake Concepts had to throw out inventory due to a burst pipe. Similar stories are piling up for restaurant­s as the region grapples with a historic cold spell that has snarled roads, limited access to fresh water and left many residents without power.

“Unfortunat­ely, a large portion of our product — produce and protein — has expired, so we’ll have to discard it,” Tarka CEO Tinku Saini said in an email. “We’ve transition­ed to working through the water challenges — access to water, low water pressure and boil-water notices in some areas. Then, we are navigating the obstacles with suppliers as they determine the safest way to deliver our products.”

The challenges are further limiting residents’ access to food as grocery store shelves remain barren, while dealing the restaurant industry another blow after a year of pandemic-driven shutdowns.

Restaurant­s are trying to adapt. On Monday, as the lights flickered at Dickey’s Barbecue Pit’s 80year-old original location in Dallas, staff began giving away food to first responders instead of letting it expire.

“With the understand­ing that our food is no good to anyone if it’s spoiled and these heroes need it most, I encourage anyone who is able to do the same,” Dickey’s CEO Laura Rea Dickey said. The chain, which has 142 Texas locations, has altered its menu and is going directly to its suppliers when possible to pick up food.

The problems aren’t limited to restaurant­s, as grocers and other retail chains face obstacles to ensure they have fresh inventory.

Kroger stores in Dallas-Fort Worth have implemente­d purchase limits on milk, water and eggs, while Target closed three stores in Texas and was restocking food and water in stores that are still open. Amazon’s Whole Foods Market chain is working to “reopen all stores in the coming days,” a spokespers­on said in an email.

H-E-B said the weather is causing “severe disruption in the food supply chain” and warned product assortment will be limited for a few days. It has also placed purchase limits on some items.

 ?? Thomas Ryan Allison / Bloomberg ?? A worker carries a bottle of potable water to donate at the Batch Craft Beer & Kolaches taproom in Austin on Saturday. Restaurant­s are either donating or throwing out expired food after storminduc­ed blackouts wept across the state.
Thomas Ryan Allison / Bloomberg A worker carries a bottle of potable water to donate at the Batch Craft Beer & Kolaches taproom in Austin on Saturday. Restaurant­s are either donating or throwing out expired food after storminduc­ed blackouts wept across the state.

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