Five Feet High and #Rising: Restaurant owner faces huge costs from Irma flooding

Flame Broiler also suffered during Hurricane Irma.

Jackie Grzebin is one of seven people profiled in the Five Feet High and #Rising documentary which set out to tell the stories of those impacted by Hurricane Irma's historic and catastrophic flooding. The documentary airs Thanksgiving at 5 p.m.

“Having to put this kind of additional money into it, it’s extremely difficult.”

Like a lot of San Marco merchants, Jackie Grzebin didn’t have flood insurance. The 25 inches of water that swamped the Flame Broiler restaurant put her eight employees temporarily out of work, and cost her dearly.

“A low end [estimate] is about $20,000. A high end is about $45,000. Just in fridges, it’s $8,000. If I have to replace my bathroom door: $700. New trash can? $450. You know, so it adds up quick.”

Expenses come on top of lost revenue, which mounted each day the doors were shut. The location would lose about four weeks of sales, but still had to make payroll for displaced employees. After just a year and a half in business, Jackie says. “Having to put this kind of additional money into it, it’s extremely difficult.”

But the flood was as emotional as it was economic, even for business owners.

“Mentally is beyond even something to discuss,” Jackie says. “It’s horrific. Every time I’ve talked about it before today, I’ve cried. I’m crying now.”

As she talks, a customer walks in, wrongly believing the restaurant has reopened. 

“That’s my fourth customer today, and it’s almost worse,” Jackie says, after turning him away. “It’s nice that they’re still coming and hoping that we’re here, but it’s really disheartening.”

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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