One by one the cars drove by, slowing down just enough so that drivers could read the sign they didn’t want to see at Zesto on Broadway: Closed.
Inside, manager Janet Green was down on her hands and knees, trying to lay out new carpeting. There was no electricity in the shop, which meant no air conditioning.
But Green thought she’d use the opportunity to finish a few projects that were hard to tackle during the hustle and bustle of regular business hours.
Every now and then, someone would come to the window, asking incredulously why they couldn’t have a shake or an ice-cream sandwich.
“Some people actually seemed mad,” she said. “I hope we don’t go on much longer without power. People are going to start to get grouchy.”
Zesto on Broadway would have usually made a killing on Sunday, a day when temperatures reached into the 90s. But it was one of hundreds of businesses forced to shut their doors as result of power outages caused by Friday’s storm.
According to Indiana Michigan Power’s website, more than 60,000 customers in Fort Wayne and Allen County were without power as of Sunday evening. That figure includes hundreds of businesses, I&M spokesman Dave Mayne said.
With the exception of major commercial and industrial accounts, Mayne said, no priority is placed on restoring the power of businesses over that of homes.
“Our priorities with restoration is we try to restore power to essential human services such as hospitals,” he said.
Mayne said the outages in the city and county are expected to be repaired by late Wednesday or earlier.
While some companies lost business as a result of the power outage, others had almost more traffic than they could handle.
At Panera Bread at Jefferson Pointe, lines were out the door on both Saturday and Sunday mornings.
“Everybody needed to eat and there were few places to choose from,” said store manager Kevin Sieber. “Plus our Coliseum store has been out of power for two days, so the people who needed their Panera fix drove across town to us.”
Many businesses along Coliseum Boulevard’s retail stretch, including Panera, were still without electricity Sunday. Some stoplights along the busy street also were out, causing traffic backups.
In addition to eating, Sieber said many of his customers were using their time at Panera to charge their laptops or cell phones that they couldn’t charge at home.
Linda Scott, who has been without power since the storm hit Friday, said she didn’t want to spend the day in her hot house. So she spent part of the late morning at Panera, where she took her time reading the newspaper and enjoying coffee and a bagel.
“I wanted to have a leisurely morning in air conditioning,” she said. “I know I’m taking up space, but there are times when we all need to help out each other.”
The power outage could have hurt business at Jamison Meats on W. Jefferson Blvd., but store manger Debbie Woods said the staff acted fast enough to avoid a problem.
As soon as the power cut out Friday, the staff took all the meat from the freezer and cases and transferred it to the North Anthony Boulevard location, which did have power. After the power switched back on Saturday night, employees were able to get products back from the other store and open again on Sunday afternoon.
“You throw a few things out because you want to be safe,” she said. “But we didn’t lose anything in our freezer or cooler. Everything is fresh cut in our case.”
Green, at Zesto on Broadway, said the store’s supplier was nice enough to come and pick up ice cream from the shop before it went bad. As soon as the electricity is back again, she said she’d put in a call for the frozen treats.
Archie Ingersoll contributed to this story.