Some Bend businesses have profited from the record-setting snowfall this winter, but many more have been hampered by weather-related woes, from empty shelves to ruptured waterlines.
“When hell freezes over, it really is hell,” said Larry Sidor, co-founder of Crux Fermentation Project.
Sidor said the main waterline at the Bend-based brewery’s production facility burst following a December snowstorm. Facing another round of fresh snow, Sidor closed Crux’s brewpub at 2 p.m. Tuesday, which he said was an unprecedented move for the brewery.
Additionally, Sidor said many of the company’s supplies, from cans to malt, are coming from the other side of the Cascade Mountains. With mountain passes getting icy and treacherous during heavy snow, suppliers are struggling to get to Central Oregon, leading to delays.
“That is definitely an impact of the snow,” he said.
Crux isn’t the only Central Oregon business struggling with the recent series of winter storms. Managers at grocery stores, pizza restaurants and towing companies say the storms offered opportunity but also presented challenges in keeping up with demand for their services.
Joe Anzaldo, store manager at Newport Avenue Market, said the Bend-based store works with a lot of suppliers who operate out of Portland, or pass through Portland on their way to the store. As a result, Anzaldo said various departments have had to be nimble, coordinating with second- and third-choice vendors in order to keep their shelves full.
“It’s a real eye-opener,” Anzaldo said. “We’re kind of on an island out here.”
Sales at Newport Avenue Market are not necessarily down relative to prior winters, but consumer traffic tends to come in peaks and valleys during winter storms, he said, as people stock up on supplies in preparation for storms, and stay indoors once they actually hit. As a result, the store has been plagued by sparse shelves and packed parking lots during the lead-up to heavy snowfall, he said.
Stocking up on food before a winter storm is sensible, because delivery service is often at a premium. Cliff Triplett, co-owner of Pizza Mondo in downtown Bend, said delivering pizzas to homes has been a challenge because of heavy snow on residential streets.
“This is, by far, the roughest winter in 20 years for delivery,” Triplett said.
He added that delivery is normally about 40 percent of the restaurant’s business. But during and immediately after bad snowstorms, Triplett said Pizza Mondo will decline delivery orders if streets haven’t been plowed.
“We’re more concerned about the safety of our drivers than making a quick buck,” Triplett said.
Some professional drivers do brave the snow, however, and their companies are reaping the rewards. Adam Apalategui, founder of GreenCab of Oregon, a Bend-based taxi company, said business was up nearly 40 percent over last winter, thanks in part to Bend drivers not wanting to drive themselves during heavy snow and freezing rain.
“We’re getting a lot of calls,” Apalategui said.
So many calls, in fact, that the cab company has had to decline rides because poor road conditions have made travel times longer. While a couple of the company’s Toyota Priuses have gotten stuck in the snow, they all have studded tires, and have held up well against the elements so far, Apalategui said.
He added that the company charges a bad-weather surcharge of about 25 percent, and its taxis aren’t traveling to the Willamette Valley until the snow in the passes melts.
Lori Anton, general manager of Consolidated Towing in Bend, said the company is in the midst of its busiest winter since it was founded in 1988. The company is fielding around 100 calls per day from drivers who are stuck in the snow, or in need of new batteries thanks to the cold, she said. Like GreenCab of Oregon, Anton said Consolidated Towing has had to decline some calls thanks to the sheer volume of business.
“It has been an incredibly busy winter,” she said.
The biggest beneficiaries of the record snowfall might be the companies that contract with the city of Bend to remove excess snowfall on Bend’s residential streets. David Abbas, the city streets director, said three contractors were selected for the winter to help remove snow once city streets get accumulations of more than 6 inches.
For Taylor Northwest, a Bend-based construction company and one of the contractors, snow removal has allowed the company to keep people employed during a slow time of year for construction, according to CEO Todd Taylor.
Thanks to the high levels of snowfall, the company has worked 10 12-hour shifts so far this winter to remove snow around the city. Taylor said the company handles four of the city’s eight zones for snow removal purposes, and a typical shift requires between four and 16 snow removal machines, which make several passes through residential streets in the city, Taylor said.
“The main purpose is to make sure emergency vehicles can get to homes,” he said.
While the city pays Taylor Northwest and other snow removal contractors a flat hourly rate, Taylor said it isn’t a moneymaker for the company. The company is liable for private property that’s damaged during snow removal, as well as for damaged curbs and other city-owned property. The chief benefit, Taylor said, is that it allows the company to maintain an employee base of around 125 during a quiet time of year.
“It’s a place to keep people working; it’s not a profit center,” Taylor said.
— Reporter: 541-617-7818, firstname.lastname@example.org