Quack’s Bakery, Julio’s, and Others Weather a Weeklong Power Outage

“We survived … again!”

Photo by Melanie Haupt

When Quack’s on 43rd street closed early due to poor weather conditions on January 31, no one knew that it would be a full week before the nearly 40-year-old bakery would be able to open again.

The bakery lost power due to last week’s ice storm, and the posts on social media grew increasingly worrisome. Friday, February 3 was hopeful: “Thankful for our staff who are able to come help clean up and get the space ready so we can hit the ground running when power comes back!” On Sunday, things turned a bit more grim: “Our 43rd street location is still without power. Not only does this leave Quack’s without a production bakery but it has taken away hundreds of hours of pay for our bakers, baristas, packers, drivers and more.” Customers were invited to donate to a virtual tip jar on Venmo to help make up for lost tipped wages (the Venmo handle is @captainquacks). The morning of Tuesday, February 7, the bad news came down that the bakery was still without power, but that the community had contributed $1750 and counting toward the workers’ lost wages.

Quack’s wasn’t the only business on 43rd Street to lose power for a week: Julio’s Café, Fresh Plus, Curra’s Hyde Park, and the Pronto Texaco station were all unable to open from February 1. Like Quack’s, Curra’s set up a GoFundMe to help make workers whole after a week of no tips. Asti Trattoria, Uncle Nicky’s, Antonelli’s Cheese, and Hyde Park Bar & Grill did not lose power.

“We're looking at probably about $100,000 in lost revenues just for this week,” said Quack’s COO Heather O’Connor. “The 43rd Street location is the feeder store for both Lady Quack’s in Mueller and Captain Quack’s on Manchaca, as well as 35 to 40 wholesale accounts.

“We lost everything. Refrigerated ingredients, products … we threw away a lot of stuff this week. So we're starting from scratch.” No pun intended.

When asked how he plans to support the businesses and workers in his district who've sustained potentially devastating losses as a result of last week's storm, Zo Qadri, District 9's City Council member, said, "Small businesses and the jobs they sustain are a vital piece of making Austin what Austin is. I’ve heard from countless owners who have lost tens of thousands of dollars each day because of these outages. We absolutely have to prioritize looking everywhere we can – whether it’s on the local, state, or federal level – to find any and all resources we can to shore up these businesses and the Austinites they employ."

Quack's and the other Hyde Park businesses who lost power weren't the only ones in Austin that lost a week's worth of business. Cherrywood Coffeehouse, Wholy Bagel, Old Thousand, and Cypress Grill all endured sustained power outages, lost business, and wasted product.

The good news is that power was restored to Quack’s and its neighbors on Tuesday afternoon; Fresh Plus and Julio’s are now in recovery mode while Quack’s receives deliveries and employees start mixing chai and preparing dough. Quack’s will be open on Wednesday, February 8, but customers shouldn’t expect a full menu of baked goods and treats. While we’ll have to wait until Friday at the earliest to indulge in chocolate chunk scones, salty oat cookies, and marvelous morning muffins, O’Connor encourages folks to come in for coffee, buy some gift cards, and explore the live music and cocktails at Captain Quackenbush’s.

As O’Connor showed me the February drinks and baked goods menus the staff were excited to roll out, General Manager Melanie Marcee hung Valentine’s Day decorations, making the storefront increasingly cheerier.

“We survived. We survived the pandemic and all three of the February winter wonderlands that were thrown at us,” O’Connor smiles. “We plan on being here for a long, long time.”

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