Some Close, Others Manage A Brisk Trade

Business Breakdown

April 29, 2009|By Melissa Harris and Jacques Kelly | Melissa Harris and Jacques Kelly, and

Bryan and Missy Meyers planned their vacation to Northern Virginia around a trip to Baltimore's Port Discovery - a favorite spot of their young daughters before the family moved to Reno, Nev.

With a late flight Tuesday, the Meyers family arrived at 11:30 a.m. only to learn that the children's museum would close in an hour and a half. The reason: Lots of children and no water pressure make for very messy bathrooms.

And after seeing the toilets brimming with discolored, soppy toilet paper, Missy Meyers conceded the point. The museum, at 35 Market Place, was as accommodating as could be, she said, refunding their admission and offering free tickets to a children's museum in Nevada.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in Wednesday's editions incorrectly said the 1 South St. building that houses an Au Bon Pain had lost water Tuesday. The property manager says that although water pressure was reduced, water supply was not lost.
The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

"We made all of our guests aware of the problem and told them we normally keep the restrooms clean - extremely clean; people tell us all of the time we have the cleanest restrooms," said Leslie Borenstein, the museum's executive vice president.

At Au Bon Pain on South Street, manager Mike Wegner said that city Health Department officials had visited the restaurant three times before noon checking for hot water.

"Employees have to wash their hands in hot water to prevent food-borne illnesses," he said.

Although the building was without water, Au Bon Pain was running off a large reserve tank and had its own filters and heaters.

"We always filter everything - even the coffee," he said.

Merritt's Downtown Athletic Club, at 210 E. Centre St., has twice fallen victim to broken water mains. A huge break in Mount Vernon in February forced the 24-hour club to close. This time, on-duty manager Kathy Douglas shut down the showers and water fountains about 10:30 a.m.

The water is "still brownish, but it has cleaned up a lot," she said about noon.

Only the early risers at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel on East Pratt Street were able to have their morning coffee, said general manager Ed Book. "Those who slept in late - to 8:30 - didn't."

The hotel, which saw a drop in water pressure, was never without water. Employees distributed bottled water.

"It's Lake Lombard," said Filene's Basement manager Victor Shepherd, whose store, in the 600 block of Pratt St., remained open yesterday. "It's nice weather and there's a lot of activity in the harbor. People still gotta shop."

The water main break affected adjacent businesses in different ways. Panera Bread at Pratt and Market Place never closed and did a brisk business, selling coffee and breakfast breads throughout the morning. Utility repair crews lined up for their snacks.

"Crisis management comes in handy for the restaurant trade," said Panera manager Jim Freaney.

In the same block, the Capital Grille had no water and closed for lunch.

The National Aquarium also closed for the day.

"Our animals are at no risk," said Charles R. Myers Jr., director of visitor services. He said the aquarium's restrooms were out of commission and the fire-suppression system did not have full pressure.

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