- The Washington Times - Monday, June 18, 2001

The power is back on and Georgetown merchants are hearing the ring of cash registers for the first time in several days, although many said they may not be able to make up the losses suffered during a four-day blackout.
The stretch of M Street NW between 25th Street and Wisconsin Avenue had been a ghost town since Wednesday evening as old power cables smoldered underground.
This weekend, the only thing burning was money in customers pockets.
For some businesses, yesterday was the first day back at work. Most said sales were average for a Sunday.
Ice cream lovers filled Haagen-Dazs as the temperatures hovered around the high 80s. A few days earlier, the only people in the eatery were workers emptying out the walk-in freezer of 150 tubs of melted ice cream.
Store manager John Hughes said the store saved ice cream in the display freezers, which were powered by generators. Mr. Hughes had to get containers of the most popular flavors from other stores in order to have enough for the first few days back at work.
He said the store opened to sluggish sales Saturday evening, but yesterday was on par with a typical mid-June weekend.
Despite the citys apologies and promises to fix the problem for good, Mr. Hughes is afraid another outage will happen again soon.
"It keeps happening during our peak seasons," Mr. Hughes said. "Our sales were down last summer [because of an outage about a year ago]. Doing business in Georgetown is really expensive."
Potomac Electric Power Co. crews worked around the clock to temporarily fix the network. Pepco plans to start a $30 million improvement project to the area in the next six weeks.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams will meet today with utility presidents and officials from the Districts Department of Transportation to plan renovation of the areas electrical matrix. He said they will discuss ensuring the future safety and reliability of Georgetowns utilities.
Next door to Haagen-Dazs, business was slow at Manhattans Bar & Seafood Grill, which lost more than $20,000 during the blackout. General manager Andy Sulistiono said usually the restaurant has a steady stream of customers on a Sunday afternoon, especially Fathers Day. Yesterday, only two or three of the restaurants roughly two dozen tables were occupied at midafternoon.
Mr. Sulistiono said he thinks customers havent gotten the message yet that the neighborhood is open for business again. "People still think there are problems in Georgetown," he said. "People may think the food is bad, but it was really brought in this morning."
The work crews and equipment still scattered around the area probably dont help, Mr. Sulistiono said.
"People barely can see us," he said pointing to a Pepco van in front of the restaurant.
Mr. Sulistiono said Pepco officials told him the van and work equipment would stay in front of the restaurant for up to two weeks.
Pepco spokesman David Morehead said it will probably only take a few days to complete the complicated cable work near the corner of 31st and M streets NW.
Like many other business owners, Mr. Sulistiono said he will apply for loans that became available when Mr. Williams declared a limited state of emergency for the area, but he expressed skepticism about whether that money will come through.
Managers at the Sea Catch Restaurant and Raw Bar, which is not open Sundays, said their first day back at work will be today.
General Manager Gonzalo Lazcano said Sea Catch received a fresh delivery of seafood Saturday morning to get ready for business that night. Because the electricity came back on around 4 p.m., Sea Catch had to get rid of some of its delivery and was not able to open for Saturdays typically busy dinner crowd.
Employees at apparel stores such as Urban Outfitters and Steve Madden said they were surprisingly busy yesterday, more so than a typical Sunday.
"I guess over the three or four days shoppers got anxious," said Alexis Dimes-Smith, sales associate at Steve Madden.
While Ms. Dimes-Smith said she thinks the losses between Thursday and Saturday are probably too much for her store to make up, John Cassell, owner of Grafix picture framers, said he thinks he may be able to recover 25 percent of his losses. He said his sales yesterday were healthy.
Businesses werent the only ones happy that the power is back on.
Mary Beth Collins, a Georgetown resident, went to a relatives home to recharge her cell phone during the outages.
"I thanked God today at church," Mrs. Collins said. "Im so glad to have my air conditioner back. I feel like a new woman."

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