2015 | Dine

Bethesda Barbecue Company Owner Hanging on After Power Outage Damages Equipment

Dennis Friedman says he had to close the restaurant for a week after a power outage blew out the restaurant's ventilation system

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Bethesda Barbecue Company owner Dennis Friedman says his restaurant had just turned the corner into profitability after changing concepts from a fine dining restaurant to a barbecue spot earlier this year.

But then on April 17 around 2 p.m. the power went out. Friedman found out Pepco workers struck a power line while working on Hampden Lane, shutting down power for a whole block of businesses along Elm Street.

The power was restored about two hours later, but for Friedman the problems were just beginning. He says the outage blew out his ventilation hood system and some of his refrigeration units.

“The smoker was running without ventilation so we had to evacuate the restaurant because it was filling with smoke,” Friedman said. “We had to call for emergency repair to get the hood fixed.”

The repairs to the restaurant took nearly a week and during that time his restaurant was closed.

“Without ventilation we couldn’t operate,” Friedman said. “We were closed on a busy weekend.” He also said food they had purchased to serve had to be thrown away.

He says since it happened he’s been dealing with his insurance company as well as Pepco to figure out what can be done to compensate him. Friedman said Pepco sent in claim specialists to talk to him and find out what happened.

On Friday, Marcus Beal, a Pepco spokesman, said the utility can’t comment on individual claims, but said if Friedman “is doing the claims process, then he’s pretty much doing the right thing.”

However, Friedman fears he may not be able to keep the restaurant open long enough for a check from his insurance company or Pepco comes in because the restaurant was relying on day-to-day revenue after switching concepts to pay employees and buy food.

When asked what he would like Pepco to do, Friedman said, “Cover the losses and understand my situation, not just put me in the pipeline. It was something that happened because of their work.”