Phoenix Rain Storm Affects Local Restaurants, Chefs Rally to Re-Open

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Tuesday evening’s heavy rainstorms hit Central Phoenix the hardest – totaling 2.91 inches of rain and shutting down Interstate 17, flooding major and neighborhood streets, and causing trouble for local restaurants.

Reports were popping up on Twitter last night about smoke coming from the Pizzeria Bianco location at Town & Country. Pizzeria posted a photo on Instagram of the soaked, hazy storefront, with the caption apologizing for inconvenience to Town & Country patrons, explaining, “flooding caused an electrical fire that has us spending the night cleaning up instead of serving you.” On a happier note, Bianco added, “The good news is we got rain.”

“I think we'll be back today,” Chris Bianco told New Times this morning. “We had about three inches of rain in the whole restaurant,“ which he says was just high enough to short something out. “If water comes up the wrong way, it can be like a river,” he adds. Firefighters came to identify the problem, and made sure it was safe for the crew to clean it up.

“I don’t want anybody to worry,” Bianco says about the Instagram photo, which he says was not a call for attention, but “just letting people know we were mopping the floor and getting the water out.” 

Bianco's neighbors at Grassroots Kitchen & Tap also had water. “About half of our dining-room floor was covered in water,” says General Manager David Milton, adding that his crew was over helping the Bianco staff while simultaneously trying to keep more water from coming in, also turning off the gas line due to Bianco's electrical issue.

Despite all this, “We stayed open the entire time,” Milton says, “We were very fortunate.”

Over near 16th Street and Thomas Road, things were not so fortunate for Barrio Café. Barrio Café's Facebook page was filled with images of rainwater, including a video yesterday evening of flooding by the front door with the message, “Sorry but we have to close tonight due to flooding. Thanks.” An hour later, a photo of a flooded sidewalk against 16th Street came with the caption, “Looking for sandbags. We are closed tonight.”

Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza says Barrio Café closed during prime time while they were swamped (no pun intended) with new customers. “We ended up calling it DOA at 6 p.m. when the flood water was hitting our glass door,” Silvana says in an e-mail. “Holy shit, now that's scary.”

She says the restaurant had water inside both bathrooms, but after closing the staff was on it. “That is why they are Chingones. The Barrio Familia knows how to work.”

She adds, “We don't mess around … opened for lunch already.”

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