Some Bay View businesses operate by candlelight with power still out, others have to close

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Several homes and businesses in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood were still without power Thursday night, Dec. 16, but some businesses did their best to stay open.

Jennifer Martin, a customer service manager at the Piggly Wiggly on Chase, had to tell one would-be shopper, "I apologize, we're not open right now. We have no power, I'm sorry."

It was a familiar refrain Thursday as Martin had to turn away dozens of shoppers after the power went out.

Piggly Wiggly first lost power Wednesday night. They delayed opening Thursday because power wasn't restored until 11 a.m., but an hour later the lights went out again.

Martin said it was a "disaster," adding, "We basically had to get all the customers out of the store safely. Then we had to put all the product away, made sure the cold stuff and meat got put away right away so there's no issues with that."

Down the street the stoplights at Chase and Oklahoma were out, causing potentially dangerous conditions for drivers like James Etta Bonds, who said, "If you're following behind a car, you need to pay attention because the lights are not lit."

But some places embraced the challenge and stayed open, like Sam's Tap and its sister bar a few blocks away. Bartender and manager Roxie Beane said, "Right now we're kind of doing some paper tabs to keep the business going, hoping to be back online really soon."

Battery-operated string lights and a speaker helped maintain the atmosphere, and bartenders said the beer stays cold even without power.

Sam's was still in the dark a few hours later when the sun went down, so out came the candles.

And unlike a grocery store, the bar didn't have to worry as much about losing inventory. Roxie said, "The most important part is keeping the coolers closed to maintain everything that's in there. We're not serving any food at either location, thank goodness."

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