VACAVILLE, Calif. — Andy Koval said it was his dream to open his own restaurant. That dream became a reality in July 2019 when he opened the doors to Mainstreet Smokehouse for the first time in with a line waiting outside the door.
Now, less than a year later, Koval said he may be closing the doors to his Vacaville restaurant for good because of last year's PG&E blackouts.
Koval said everything at his restaurant was on the up and up, selling out on most days and always having a steady customer base. That was until the P&GE shutoffs put the restaurant out $12,000, he said.
"I did not receive the notification until an hour after we closed," Koval said. "By that time, it was to late to do anything. I lost my whole inventory."
Between October and November, PG&E cut the power to millions of people across Northern California in an effort to prevent massive wildfires that the utility's power lines have caused in years past.
In 2018, a PG&E power line sparked the Camp Fire, killing 85 people, burning roughly 153,336 acres and destroying thousands of homes and businesses.
Soon after, in January 2019, the electric company filed for bankruptcy because it was facing at least $30 billion in potential damages from lawsuits. Along with the Camp Fire, the utility’s equipment is blamed for starting massive wildfires in Northern California in 2017 and 2018, killing more than 100 people.
City of Vacaville Economic Development Manager Tim Padden said he thinks the power shutoffs have made it hard to fill vacant storefronts in the city.
"In terms of business recruitment and trying to get business to come to California," Padden explained, "it’s definitely been a deterrent to have PG&E close a lot of their power when wind pick up during fire season."
The closing of Mainstreet Smokehouse comes as a surprise to the city, but Padden admits it is more difficult for restaurants to stay afloat.
“It's a tougher environment to do businesses in with restaurants these days," Padden said. "So, in a lot of ways, it is tougher than, say, a boutique or salon that has a pretty consist customer base."
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