South Surrey’s The Carvery Sandwich Shop has been forced to close its doors for restoration following flooding caused by a burst water pipe just after Christmas.
Owner Bryan Mendiola told Peace Arch News he had to make the hard decision on Dec. 29 when he received the bad news from a restoration company consultant that hidden water damage from flooding the previous evening would require removal of existing flooring and cabinetry.
“Mould is the major issue, especially with it being a restaurant,” Mendiola said, adding that it’s been estimated that the business will have to stay closed for between a month and a half and three months until restoration work is fully complete.
There’s one bright side, the community-minded Mendiola said – some Peninsula people in need benefited from his misfortune when he was able to donate around 80 per cent of the food supplies in The Carvery’s refrigerators.
Although he and staff weren’t able to prepare the food – as they did for health care workers during the COVID lockdown and for community volunteers during the recent Fraser Valley flooding, he could pass it on to Rotarian Janine Maclean of Curiously Good Catering who works with the White Rock Rotary Club’s daily noontime Feed My City program.
“We’d just received a lot of supply orders because we believed we’d be reopening,” he said. “So at least people in need were able to get an extra treat right before New Year’s Eve.”
“The food he gave me was outstanding – we were able to make huge subs and bowls of soup for the people,” Maclean said. “It was very generous of him.”
While Mendiola was glad about that outcome, he admits he is apprehensive about the future.
“There have been a lot of sleepless nights,” he said.
Not only is Mendiola being forced to put his business on hold, but he fears he will lose his current staff as a result of the closure.
“I can’t expect any of them to not have work for the next two or three months,” he said. “Insurance will only cover the per-hour wages, not the tips, which is a big part of the income in the business.
“The hardest part of running a restaurant business right now is getting staff. There are not enough skilled people to go round and a lot of qualified people have left the industry.”
Ironically, The Carvery – which has been at 2430 King George Blvd. for six years – had just re-opened for business Dec. 28, following a Christmas break, when Mendiola discovered that frozen pipes in the cinder-block building had made it impossible to prepare food or serve customers.
He said that when he closed the shop that afternoon, he still had hopes at that point of reopening on Dec. 29, provided the restaurant’s heating warmed up the pipes sufficiently.
However, returning to the restaurant on a hunch later that evening he was greeted by water seeping out from under The Carvery’s front door and turning into an icy surface in the parking lot.
Opening the front door he was confronted by a “waterfall” he said. Once inside, he discovered the floor was ankle deep in water, issuing with what he described as “fire hose” force from a broken pipe in the back.
While he notified his landlord and the City of Surrey he wasn’t able to turn off the mains – which required help from a Surrey Fire crew.
“Luckily one of the firefighters was a friend of mine and he was able to persuade his buddies to help us clear out about 75 per cent of the water,” Mendiola said.
“It seemed pretty good, and I thought perhaps we’d only be closed until New Year’s,” he said.
“We couldn’t get a restoration guy in until the next morning – that’s when he gave me the bad news.”
Prolonging the closure, he said, is that fact that restoration company services are at a premium right now.
“We’re not alone in this,” he said. “During that freezing period there were a lot of burst pipes in residences and businesses.”
Mendiola said he is hopeful that he can reopen within a couple of months, but acknowledges he is feeling overwhelmed at this point.
“Between COVID, and meeting COVID protocols and trying to keep staff, and now the restoration, you can only take so much,” he said.
“We’ve been lucky during COVID that we’ve been busy – but being busy doesn’t mean you’re surviving.”