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Panama 66 Loses Power, Perishable Produce

Balboa Park's Panama 66 had to shut down this week due to a power outage.

Balboa Park's restaurants have had a hellish week, dealing with both a water main break that affected The Prado and an unrelated power outage that's kept Panama 66 closed for the past two days.

Without water, Cohn Restaurant Group's The Prado had to shutter at 5 p.m. for dinner service on Tuesday but was back up and running during normal hours this morning.

The situation at Panama 66 at the San Diego Museum of Art is way worse. The beer destination, which debuted in September, got caught in the long outage that wiped out power Monday night through yesterday, co-owner Jeff Motch tells Eater.

Power is back today, but customers are not. He couldn't re-open because the outage caused the 150-seat eatery to fall behind schedule by a day. Each 24-hour period consists of prepping for the next day at the veggie-heavy restaurant, he explains, so Panama 66 can't bring in fresh food when the power is out. 

SDG&E scheduled what was supposed to be a temporary outage late Monday night for a service repair, but that plan hit a snag and stayed out much longer.

The two days of being closed will likely cost his team "thousands" of dollars, he says, and figures are being tallied. In addition to the loss on food sales, he still has to pay the front and back house for showing up to work each day. Panama 66 is under the same ownership group as Blind Lady Ale House and Tiger!Tiger!.

After the outage, Motch thought fast and rented an 18-foot refrigerated box truck to store produce. Transporting food from its walk-in fridges resembled a "farmers market," he says. He couldn't cancel brewery deliveries, so that booze went straight into the temporary truck.

He contemplated re-opening for dinner tonight but it "wasn't worth it. We'd have to bring in so many people to do so much to be open tonight."

Instead, he's been plowing through the day with a small crew.

(Because of the crisis control, Motch is missing out on Blind Lady Ale House's six-year anniversary party, which is going on all week.)

Doors will open again on Thursday, which is crucial because it's Culture & Cocktails night at the museum. Panama 66 makes the cocktails for the three bars inside the packed quarterly event, which entails lots of lime cutting and other fruit prep.

The band Beso de Coco will play on site at the restaurant from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., which features the wife of local jazz legend Gilbert Castellanos. Sounds like Motch could use a cocktail.

Panama 66

1450 El Prado, , CA 92101 (619) 696-1966 Visit Website

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