Back in business: Mall, restaurants reopen after storm

News-DemocratJanuary 6, 2014 

Sunday normally would have been big day for business at Buffalo Wild Wings in Belleville, but a daylong heavy snowstorm nixed that.

With only two cooks, two managers and host, but few customers, general manager Kevin Prokopf said the restaurant at Belleville Crossing decided to close by mid Sunday afternoon.

"It's kind of rare, especially for us because we're a sports bar and it was playoff football on Sunday," Prokopf said. "That was a real difficult choice for us to make."

The snow on Sunday closed the St. Clair Square mall in Fairview Heights for the first time in years, but the stores there reopened Monday.

Wehrenberg Theatres closed its theaters in O'Fallon and Fairview Heights on Sunday. The Edge 5 Theatres in Belleville closed on Monday. Edison's Entertainment Complex in Edwardsville is going the other way, after being closed on Sunday: On Monday, customeers could get an all-day snow special of $10 unlimited passes for bowling, arcade and laser tag.

A number of restaurants also closed Sunday, amid the torrential snowfall and drifting snow.

However, Denny's was steadfast in maintaining its 24-hour business.

"We don't close," said a manager at Denny's in Belleville. "We don't close at all."

Helen Edwards, who is the assistant manger at the Denny's in O'Fallon, said the restaurant's general manager personally drove and picked up employees from their homes on Sunday and drove them back home after their shifts.

"The only thing that is driving us crazy is the snow salt," Edwards said. "It's impossible to keep the floors clean. It's an unending battle. Other than that, we're doing OK. We're having pretty good business today. We're busier than normal for a Monday."

At Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, where flights had been canceled Sunday, the National Weather Service in St. Louis reported Monday that 10.6 inches has fallen --ideal conditions for local landscapers and those who provide commercial and residential plowing.

"My phone's been ringing off the hook," said an employee at Midwest Snow & Ice in O'Fallon.

The snow also kept the plows at Kleinschmidt Landscape Maintenance Inc. in Millstadt occupied all day Sunday. Diana Kleinschmidt said her husband and son have almost been working around the clock.

"They left yesterday at 7:30 and came back about 8:30 this morning, took a shower and then went back out," Kleinschmidt said. "They had to sleep in their truck last night."

Mary Tune said her snow removal business has had to turn away customers.

"We have 35 drive ways and we have turned down about the same amount," Tune said "We're booked up to late tomorrow afternoon, and that's just drive ways, in addition to our regular contract work."

She said there have not been many other snowstorms in the metro-east that produced as much snow as this one.

"I can remember the ice storm of '79, I remember that," she said. "It was over New Year's Eve. I remember that and I think there was more snow in '82."

Walt Schmid also remembers the '82 storm. Schmid has been repairing snow removal equipment at his shop in Cahokia for about 35 years. He usually closes at 1 p.m. on Saturdays and closes on Sundays, but he made an exception this past weekend.

"We even sold some stuff after 1 o'clock and stayed open because of this snow," Schmid said. "We've had people call yesterday and we had two mechanics work late last Saturday."

He also believes Sunday's storm is the largest snowfall in 32 years.

"Back in '82, we had 18 inches overnight," he said. "We had what they called thunder snow. I guess that was the biggest one."

"But this one wasn't far from it."

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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