Nearly eight months after the disastrous 30-inch water main break that occurred at the intersection of Sixth and Bainbridge streets in Queen Village, small businesses are still struggling to get back on their feet. Some business owners have temporarily closed their doors and some businesses have been hanging on by a string.
One business owner is Daniel Daselth, the owner and art director of Pageant: Soloveev, an art gallery that has been a part of Queen Village’s art scene since October 2004.
Pageant: Soloveev was just feet away from the water main break and was hit with over five feet of water in their basement.
“Plumbing and electrical were all damaged and had to be rebuilt. I was fortunate that the insurance that I have on the building covered the damages from the flood,” he said. “So, I was able to be reimbursed for the destruction of property.”
Daselth also said that many other small-business owners on Bainbridge Street, along with homeowners, have gotten denied by their insurance. Homeowners’ and business insurances typically do not cover repairs to the water and sewer service lines, according to WHYY. Additionally, when a group of uninsured claims—filed by multiple homeowners or businesses—hits $500,000 in Pennsylvania, other residents are out of luck because of the Pennsylvania Tort Claims Act of 1980.
On top of residents being denied their much-needed insurance money, some stores had to close their doors and others have yet to reopen. One restaurant was Creperie Beau Monde & L’Etage, a French restaurant that has been around for 20 years.
“For them, the flood was also the last straw,” said Daselth. Redcrest Fried Chicken, a South Philly restaurant, was set to relocate to a bigger location to offer a dine-in experience for its customers. The location would have been on the corner of Sixth and Bainbridge Street.
However, 30,000 gallons of gushing water destroyed the restaurant space.
Adam Volk, the owner of Redcrest wrote on his Instagram that the renovations will cost thousands of dollars to fix.
“We lost our refrigeration, prep area, dry storage, HVAC system, liquor inventory, office, IT network and security system, as well as thousands of dollars in small wares and equipment,” said Volk.
Down the street from Pageant: Soloveev, on the corner of Sixth and Bainbridge streets is a quaint boutique called Lobo Mau. Nicole Haddad, the owner of Lobo Mau, had always dreamt of owning a space where people walking down the street can come in and check out her handmade fashions that are on window display.
“I have been into fashion since I was three,” she said. Her dream turned into a reality when she opened her small business on Sixth and Bainbridge on Feb. 1, 2020. Weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. A year and a half later, the water main destroyed her storefront.
Haddad said other businesses across the street from hers decided to close because of the water main break. But she’s hanging on.
“The restaurants are still closed, and no one could drive by, and it’s been nine months since anyone has driven by our store,” Haddad said.
In fact, one of the reasons why she decided to settle in the location of Lobo Mau was because of the fascinating area where there is a lot of foot traffic.
“There are some days where people can’t even get by,” she said. “The other day there were five trucks out front, I’m glad they’re working on it but it’s stressful.”
Nine months ago, in the middle of a humid July night at 1 a.m. a 130-year old water main pipe burst in the middle of Sixth and Bainbridge streets. Philadelphia Water Department crews immediately worked all day to clean up the mess the water caused. The flood was most likely caused by aging water pipes underneath the city’s streets, one reason why many pipes have burst throughout the city. Most century-old pipes cannot withhold water pressure inside. Other reasons that may cause a pipe burst are drought, clogs, and freezing temperatures.
Although Haddad has hope that the city will fix the water main break soon, Deselth has heard that it will take almost a year to fix the water main break.
“I heard it will be completed by Christmas,” he said.
However, Haddad is thinking positively when it comes to overcoming this difficult time.
“I think once we get back on track, it will be a great corner again, it’s going to take a little bit of time, we’re not giving up on it,” she said.
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