Denham Springs restaurants try to come back from flood damage

Denham Springs restaurants try to come back from flood damage
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - Some have been amazed at just how fast restaurants were able to make a comeback from the flooding, but for a few in hard-hit Denham Springs, the progress is not as fast as some would like.

The music is on, the doors are open, and cooks are where people would expect them to be. Papi's Mexican Cuisine in Denham Springs re-opened two weeks ago after taking on a great deal of water.

The owner, Alejandro Ortiz, figured the flood cost him at least $50,000 in lost business and repairs.

"Everybody needs money. I have employees that have children, that have wives. They don't have any other job," Ortiz said.

Ortiz said employees came in every day at 7:30 a.m. and worked until midnight for two weeks just to clean the restaurant. He said he feels fortunate just to be back in business.

"We're standing here, we're open, we're happy. We're in business, and I guess that's all that matters right now. You gotta just get it going and not let anything push you back, put you down, and just continue," Ortiz said.

While some restaurants have already opened, others still need more time. Big Mike's Sports Bar and Grill, for example, will not be open for at least another month.

Owner Mike O'Neal and his wife Jocelyn have been working on the restaurant and their flooded home at the same time. He said they got nearly six feet of water and had just come off their best year moneywise.

"Coming into 2016, very pumped up and wanting to build on that. So it's been very traumatic. It is like dating somebody and then all of a sudden you just broke up. You know, we have people that we saw on a weekly basis that we don't see anymore, and everybody's dealing with this tragedy," O'Neal said.

O'Neal expects Bike Mike's to re-open in Mid-October, as long as everything goes according to schedule.

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