How Some Houston Restaurant Owners Are Responding to the Boil Water Notice — Updated
Is your Houston restaurant, bar or other food and beverage business closed today, or open with precautions? You can email us. This is a developing story and will be updated through the day.
A power outage on Sunday, November 29 at approximately 10:30 a.m. has led to a lot of headaches today for Houston restaurant and bar owners. According to Mayor Sylvester Turner during a press conference this morning, two transformers failed, both the main and the backup, causing a power loss at the East Water Purification Plant for about 10 minutes. Several pressure sensors reported the PSI dropped below 20 for at least two minutes. The resulting boil water notice applies to all of Houston, as the East Water Purification Plant provides water to the entire city.
While the boil water notice is expected to be dropped as soon as Tuesday morning — and, according to Mayor Sylvester Turner, there’s been no indication so far that the water system was compromised — it means that owners of food and drink businesses are having to put in special effort and expense to comply with the notice’s requirements. Tap water cannot be served, ice made from tap water has to be thrown out (even if filtered) and water used for cooking has to be either bottled or allowed to be at a rolling boil for three minutes.
(Having problems finding bottled water? KPRC Channel 2 is reporting on a few distribution sites.)
On a positive note, many Houston restaurants and bars are closed on Mondays and won’t be significantly affected by the boil water notice. However, those that normally are have either opened with precautions, closed or are offering limited service, such as to-go only.
Below is a sampling of restaurants across Houston that would normally be open today, and how owners are dealing with the boil water notice.
Open With Precautions
- Brasserie 19, 1962 West Gray: “We are taking all necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of all guests considering the boil water notice. That means — shots and beer! We will not be serving cocktails with ice, coffee, tea, and espresso, but we will have bottled water and all other beverages available. The kitchen is boiling all water to ensure food safety.”
- Dak & Bop, 1805 West 18th: The restaurant best known for its Korean fried chicken reports it’s got plenty of bottled water, is taking all precautions and is open regular hours.
- Dandelion Cafe: Although this is in Bellaire, the coffee shop and café is still having to take precautionary measures. That’s because Bellaire’s water system is connected to the City of Houston’s, so it’s issued a boil water notice, too. An email to Dandelion Cafe’s customers said, “We are taking steps to keep our guests safe and healthy. Our coffee equipment keeps water at boiling temperatures, we are buying fresh ice, and will have bottled water and boiled water for drinking as well. We have sanitizers and boiled water for hand washing. Water for cooking will also be boiled.”
- Dish Society, multiple locations: Thanks to having locations all over the area, some have to comply with the boil water notice, and others are unaffected. It’s business as usual for Katy and West University. The others — San Felipe, Memorial and Heights — are not able to serve water, tea, or coffee beverages. However, the full menus are available, and the restaurants are even offering free delivery today as a Cyber Monday special. Order directly from the Dish Society website and use code CM2022.
- Harold’s, 350 West 19th: Owner Alli Jarrett in an email to her customers, “Both Harold’s and Low Tide are open today with clean ice and bottled drinks. Boil water protocols are in place.”
- Henderson & Kane, 715 Henderson: This general store and eatery is not only open, but providing patrons with a hand-washing station stocked with clean water. Additionally, it’s having a Cyber Monday steak night deal. Visit the website to place your order and use code 1stinLINE. If you’re one of the first 10 people to do so, you’ll get to take $10 off your ribeye dinner. If that code no longer works, try to be one of the next 20 people to use code 2ndinLINE for $5 off.
- La Lucha and Superica, 1801 West 19th: “Will be open today with the water boil advisory in place. We will be following all regulations and procedures.”
- Lagniappe Kitchen & Bar, 550 Heights: Shake off the boil-water blues at this Cajun restaurant, which is serving red beans and rice today, as is traditional on Mondays. “The kitchen will be open regular business hours, with some adjustments made with guest safety in mind: all water for consumption will be bottled, and guests dining in will be served on disposable plates and utensils. Our coffee menu will be limited to cold brew and drip options, with the remainder of our menu unchanged.”
- Low Tide, 2030 Bingle: Owner Alli Jarrett wrote in an email to her customers, “Both Harold’s and Low Tide are open today with clean ice and bottled drinks. Boil water protocols are in place.”
- The Original Ninfa’s, 2704 Navigation and 1700 Post Oak: “We are taking all the necessary and recommended precautions in the preparation of our full menu.”
- Ouisie’s Table, 3939 San Felipe: A press release says, “General Manager Adam Dinari brought in staff early this morning and is having water boiled so as to be able to use it for cooking throughout today and tomorrow. They will not be using ice today, at least until they can locate some that can be guaranteed safe (made before the pumping station incident). They have plenty of bottled water already on hand to use for customers requesting water. They will not be serving water unless requested.”
- Saint Arnold Beer Garden, 2000 Lyons: “The Beer Garden and Restaurant will be open to the public and will serve beer and food all day long. However, we will not have water, sweet tea, or ice available to the public until further notice. You can bring your own water, but again, we have beer!”
- Samurai Noodle, 1801 Durham: The nice thing about a ramen restaurant: the main dish is getting boiled no matter what. Owner Thomas Tang says there’s plenty of bottled water on-hand, too.
- Urban Eats, 3414 Washington Avenue: This restaurant that also features a well-stocked general store and deli is open and “operating with clean bottled water.”
- Winnie’s, 3622 Main: Co-owner and chef Chris Roy says, “At this point, we’re just continuing to roll with the punches. Forgive the metaphor, but it’s kind of a drop in the ocean after the last couple of years in the restaurant/bar industry. Guests, for the most part, are understanding of the situation and the limitations we are having to place on service out of an abundance of caution until the boil notice is lifted.”
Offering Limited Service
- Gatlin’s BBQ, 3510 Ella: “Will be open today for to go only from 11-4pm [or until sell-out] with a limited menu.”
- Kenny & Ziggy’s, 1743 Post Oak: Ziggy Gruber posted on social media, “At Kenny & Ziggy’s, we always put the safety of our customers first, so unfortunately, because of the boil water notice, the Deli will be closed today. We are sorry for the inconvenience, but we feel this is the right thing to do.”
- Starbucks: Numerous Houstonians are also reporting on social media that their local Starbucks is closed, so it’s a good idea to call ahead — really, to any coffee shop.
Nearby cities reporting as unaffected by the boil water notice include Katy, Pasadena, La Porte and Missouri City. According to the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management, a small part of that area is affected.
The most recent water sample was taken at approximately 9:30 a.m. this morning. During his press conference, Turner said he expects a clean water report by 3 a.m. on Tuesday, November 29 and possibly earlier, depending on how soon the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reads the water testing data. You can view his morning press conference below.
Phaedra Cook has written about Houston’s restaurant and bar scene since 2010. She was a regular contributor to My Table magazine (now closed) and was the lead restaurant critic for the Houston Press for two years, eventually being promoted to food editor. Cook founded Houston Food Finder in November 2016 and has been its editor and publisher ever since.