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updated: 7/13/2011 11:14 AM

Ice, generators, hotel rooms hot items after storm

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  • Powerless patrons on Monday packed the Village Bar and Grill in Buffalo Grove to seek an air-conditioned refuge after storms knocked out electricity.

       Powerless patrons on Monday packed the Village Bar and Grill in Buffalo Grove to seek an air-conditioned refuge after storms knocked out electricity.
    Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

  • Powerless patrons packed the Village Bar and Grill in Buffalo Grove after storms knocked out electricity for many customers.

       Powerless patrons packed the Village Bar and Grill in Buffalo Grove after storms knocked out electricity for many customers.
    Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

 
 

If you're worried about getting enough ice to keep your food from spoiling after Monday's power outages knocked out your refrigeration, don't fret.

"We will not run out of ice," said Jeff Sypek, plant manager for Home City Ice in Chicago, adding, though, that delivering it fast enough is a challenge. "We're going as fast as we can. As soon as our trucks pull out of the store, the store needs more ice."

Preserving frozen food was one thing on the mind of Bonnie Stangland. Her Wheeling family has been without power since 8 a.m. on Monday. Despite throwing 5-pound bags of ice into a cooler, they were forced to throw food out Tuesday.

And the 55-year-old, her husband and two daughters were checking into a hotel Tuesday night.

"My husband is missing his 'Halo' game, that's for sure," Stangland said.

She isn't the only one going the hotel route.

The Wyndham Garden Hotel in Buffalo Grove filled all 155 rooms Monday night and expected to do so again Tuesday. Manager Sean Finnerty said about 100 rooms normally would have been occupied.

And power generators have been flying off the shelves, said Jon Hoch, founder of Power Equipment Direct. The company supplies generators to customers all over the country from its warehouse in Bolingbrook. Hoch said they primarily sell equipment online and ship the generators. But because of the storms, the warehouse has seen a steep increase in customers picking up merchandise.

While the tornado in Joplin, Mo., provided some sales, this storm has been more of a boost, Hoch said.

"In Chicago, obviously no houses got destroyed, but there are a lot of houses without power," he said.

The company also sells snowblowers, and last winter's severe blizzard boosted sales then.

"But I think the generators are crazier -- partially because people need it now," Hoch said. "With the snowblowers, there's no catastrophe; nothing has been destroyed because of some light, fluffy snow."

The Holiday Inn Express in Lake Zurich needed a generator on Monday. Luckily, a hotel employee brought one in, said Holiday Inn General Manager Jessica Neville. A ComEd crew restored electricity around 5 p.m. Monday.

"It poses some unique challenges, such as housekeeping can't clean the room with no power," said Neville, adding that the storm resulted in a sellout Monday night.

Restaurants with power were lucky, as an outage could mean thousands of dollars in lost food and sales. While Jersey's Pizza and Grill in Hoffman Estates remained unaffected by Monday's storm, last month three days without power resulted in a loss of about $22,000 in product, said owner Greg Majewski.

In Buffalo Grove, the Village Bar and Grill saw a surge in customers by about 20 percent Monday night as those wanting to grab a cold beer and watch television took refuge there. Bar co-owner Jim Leo said he kept an additional server at work to handle the uptick in business.

"We been on the other end (of power outages), too," Leo said.

The Illinois Attorney General's office hasn't received any complaints about price gouging in the storm's aftermath. Still, officials warn residents to be wary of scam artists and urge residents to get a written estimate before allowing any work to be done. More advice can be found at illinoisattorneygeneral.gov.

• Staff writer Bob Susnjara contributed to this report.

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