Home Dining & Wine Pacific Northwest Restaurants Struggle During Heat Wave

Pacific Northwest Restaurants Struggle During Heat Wave

by Jersey Lady

On Wednesday, the temperature in my small kitchen was blot, a Seattle pizza restaurant hit 108 degrees. Like many restaurants in the city, Blotto does not have air conditioning. Due west facing, it receives hours of summer afternoon sun.

Pizzeria owners Jordan Koplowitz and Caleb Hoffman work in the hottest area of ​​this little shop: the kitchen. To cope, they drink plenty of water and cover themselves with cool, damp towels.

“We’re trying to finish making pizzas as quickly as possible so that we can turn off the ovens, get the employees and us out of the restaurant, and chill by the water,” Koplowitz said.

Blotto is just one of hundreds of restaurants trying to survive the week-long heatwave that has engulfed the Pacific Northwest, bringing record-breaking triple-digit temperatures to areas where air conditioning is not the norm. But extreme heat caused by human-induced climate change looks like the new reality for an industry that relies on hot ovens in kitchens and comfortable customers in his dining room.

With more and more days, outdoor dining is out of the question, cooling costs skyrocket, and kitchen worker temperatures approach unbearable.

This week’s highs continue into the weekend, with highs of around 110 degrees Celsius expected in eastern Oregon and parts of Washington, but the heat is reminiscent of the heat domes that took hold in the area last summer. Hundreds of people died in connection with Oregon, Washington, British Columbia.

Blotto opened just over a year ago, just before the heat dome began. The heat forced the restaurant to close for the day and temporarily change the menu. To stay open this summer, shopkeepers are shortening hours where possible and encouraging customers to order takeout.

Mr Hoffman said:

But working during a heat wave is out of the question for owner and chef Erica Montgomery. Erica’s Soul Food, Portland, Oregon food truck. During last year’s heat wave, she shut down her truck after the local power grid failed and she lost all of her food. She hasn’t missed a chance this year. Her truck will be closed this week and all the food she prepares for catering will be stored in her air-conditioned kitchen space.

“If it’s 95 degrees outside, it’s at least 10 to 15 degrees higher than inside the track,” she said.

According to a 2022 study, only 53% of households in Washington state have some form of air conditioning, compared to 76% in Oregon. report According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

But Kirsten Weiler McGarvey, a 33-year-old Portland student who doesn’t have air conditioning in her tiny apartment, isn’t looking for a cool dining room in a restaurant. “

When temperatures hit 116 degrees in Portland last year, she said many restaurants closed, so she couldn’t even go out to eat.

“Portland as a city is totally unprepared for the heat,” she said. “I think a lot of people in other parts of the country really enjoy the benefits of air conditioning becoming commonplace. No. Last year things were melting, the window blinds were melting, the road was forked.”

NostranaPortland’s Italian restaurants had to close completely during last year’s heat wave.

The restaurant has closed only outdoor dining so far this year. Chef and owner Kathy Wims said no outdoor seating was allowed on Tuesday and that “almost no one wanted to sit outside” on Wednesday. was expected to close.

Wims said it would be difficult to cancel outdoor dining because the recent surge in coronavirus would mean losing reservations for many people still uneasy about dining indoors. rice field. During heatwaves like this, Wims estimates business is down 30 to 40 percent of his, typically at Portland’s busiest time of the year.

Energy costs also skyrocket during periods of high heat, she added, and places with air conditioning “don’t have the power to manage this kind of heat.”

Over the past few years, according to Wims, the restaurant business has seen one turning point after another. “Unfortunately, all of these decisions, just like Covid decisions, are at this point.”

Double Mountain BreweryLocated on the Columbia River in Hood River, Oregon, about an hour’s drive east of Portland, serves pizza with beer. The impact of this week’s heat wave has been relatively minor for Double His Mountain’s customers, which are kept cool with air conditioning and cold brews, said owner and brewmaster Matt His Swihart. .

Kitchens are taking the brunt of the heat, he said. Pizza oven exhaust hoods help expel smoke out of the building while also letting in hot air from outside. Swihart, who had to shut down due to the scorching heat last summer, now turns off his pizza oven when the kitchen hits 100 degrees, just like Wednesday and Thursday. . When that happens, the brewery switches to a sandwich-only menu.

“It’s keeping peace with our staff,” he said. Not at all, we are at fault and providing accommodation to keep our staff happy and as comfortable as possible.”

Swihart estimates that on days where Double Mountain can only serve sandwiches, it loses 30 to 40 percent of its revenue for the day. During these heat waves, that electricity bill has risen by 25% and his refrigeration system and his HVAC system are “really working overtime right now,” he said.

During last year’s heat wave, our monthly energy costs skyrocketed by thousands of dollars. Looking to the future, Swihart said he will plant trees along his outside dining area to provide shade, plus he will install a $20,000 cooling unit.

But at Seattle pizza restaurant Brot, Hoffman and Koplowitz say they have no intention of adapting the restaurant for future heat waves. It’s not going to break the bank. “Two days out of the year it affects you,” Koplowitz says. “It’s hard to spend money or time trying to solve a barely-there problem.”

“We definitely appreciate the fact that this is something we deal with about once a year,” Hoffman said. I can do it.”

Mr Swihart is less optimistic.

“The climate is actually getting warmer every year,” he said. “I hope these events aren’t increasing, but my scientific brain tells me they’re going to get worse.”

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