MGE Substation

Fire Chief Steven Davis on scene at MGE in downtown Madison.

If you live in the power-outage zone in Madison and were hoping to cool off at a nearby restaurant Friday evening, you might want to call ahead.

Several restaurants and taverns located on the isthmus and downtown have closed their doors for the night.

Food Fight Restaurants is closing six of its 21 restaurants for the evening, and other restaurants, including Torri Miller’s Graze and Estrellon, plan to take the night off as well.

Caitlin Suemnicht, creative director at Food Fight, said the reasons for the closings vary, and not all are because of their proximity to the outage area.

“Fresco, for instance, the museum power got back on but the air conditioner wasn’t working,” Suemnicht said of the group’s restaurant located in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. “So with this hot of a temperature they just didn’t want to subject our customers to that.”

In another case of irony, Miller’s Sujeo, located across East Washington Avenue from the Madison Gas & Electric transformer that caused the outage, is planning to be open for regular hours on Friday.

Suemnicht said some restaurants had inventory loss and some were forced to turn back food deliveries.

“They didn’t want to be opening coolers unnecessarily or having food raised above that safety zone, which is 50 degrees,” she said.

Doug Voegeli, director of environmental health for Madison/Dane County Public Health, said the department closed all its regulated establishments that don’t have back-up power.

“We do have some safety concerns when power is out for over four hours as temperatures can start to approach the danger zone where bacteria can grow quickly,” he said in an email.

He said the department will have staff on hand during the weekend to answer questions from restaurants where food safety issues arise.

Food Fight restaurants closing for the evening include Canteen, Johnny Delmonico’s Steakhouse, DLUX, Fresco, El Dorado and Coopers Tavern.

Other centrally located Food Fight restaurants will be open.

“Tomorrow we intend to open for business hours everywhere,” Suemnicht said, “barring anything crazy happening.”

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Steven Elbow joined The Capital Times in 1999 and has covered law enforcement in addition to city, county and state government. He has also worked for the Portage Daily Register and has written for the Isthmus weekly newspaper in Madison.