‘It’s got to get better’: Local businesses close during heatwave, miss first full day of reopening

SPOKANE, Wash. — This extreme heat continues to impact businesses. It’s another blow as the state just fully reopened. Some local places couldn’t join in on the celebration Wednesday.

On a scorching day like Wednesday, ice cream or a milkshake sounds great. But people wouldn’t get it at Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle, at least not on Wednesday.

The a/c started giving up last week when it hit mid 90s in Spokane. The building got too hot, Tom Ritchie said, the owner of the milk bottle.

“The heat in here just ruins all the ice cream, aren’t able to keep the ice cream freezer going,” he said. “The ice cream is soft serve instead of hard. Just really rough on all the equipment.”

The thermometer showed it was 99 degrees inside the building as they got their air conditioning replaced on Wednesday morning.

It was a disappointing situation to be in since it could’ve been a great week.

“Not good, because there’s a lot of income that could be made obviously,” Ritchie said.

Then, they missed out on the first day of being open at 100 percent capacity. Wednesday marked the end of most restrictions in Washington. It’s been more than 15 months since restaurants and many other businesses could operate at full capacity.

Ritchie has to wait until Thursday to reopen at 100 percent capacity, which would be helpful for a small place like Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle.

“We’re only able to do so much through this whole last year, the ups and downs, we’ve been able to survive. That’s all I could ask for,” Ritchie said, adding that the community has been good about supporting them.

Further south on Division, Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant in North Spokane has had a tough run these last two weeks. Last Tuesday, there was a fire that broke out right behind the building, damaging it.

Related: Ferraro’s and some homes damaged in north Spokane fire

Then this week, owner Jason Ferraro had to also deal with power outages.

The restaurant has only been open for a few days over the last two weeks because of these two incidents.

“I wasn’t ready to go back to normal yet, I guess,” Ferraro said laughing.

Normal will have to wait until Thursday when it’s not as hot outside. Monday, Avista cut out their power along with many others in Spokane in an effort to help not overload the system. On Tuesday, Ferraro said they were part of the planned rolling blackouts. Ferraro said he didn’t think it’d be worth it to open and then close then reopen to go through all that.

Related: Rolling blackouts planned to continue throughout the week, says Avista

The kitchen also gets too hot for his crews to work in this triple digit heat. So, in an effort to keep them same, he decided to close up shop.

“It’s just a slight hiccup, it’s more like a long hiccup between last year and all this happening. It’s got to get better,” he said.

Though he’s been through the wringer lately, Ferraro is trying to stay positive, knowing that the community is behind him through their tough times.

“We always thought there was going to be a light at the end of the tunnel, it just took way longer than we expected to,” Ferraro said.

READ: ‘Life coming back to the way it was’: Main Ave business owners celebrate state’s full reopening