Harbell’s Grill & Sports Bar LLC took to social media yesterday after finding access to the business hindered by a multiday construction project.
The business, located at 315 Park Central West, reopened Sept. 6 after an eight-month closure and a change of ownership, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting, but a post yesterday said roads around the restaurant were closed.
City Utilities of Springfield is doing work at the intersection of South Campbell Avenue and West College Street, and this has limited vehicles’ access to the block, according to a CU official.
Harbell’s owner David Bauer said vehicles can turn onto Park Central West from the square, but it is closed at the halfway point of the block, with traffic diverted to an alley.
“Unfortunately being open only three weeks we arrived to a street closure around our business yesterday without notice,” an Oct. 3 Facebook post on the restaurant’s page states. “That will not deter us from keeping our staff from getting their hours so we have to improvise.”
Harbell’s quickly pulled together a plan, according to Bauer, who signed the post.
The post offers two options for customers: They could park in the paid parking lot across the street from Harbell’s and the business would take the $5 parking fee of the cost of the lunch or dinner purchase, or they could place a to-go order at a 25% discount and park in the loading zone in the garage behind Harbell’s to ring in at the back door for pickup.
“It’s about keeping our staff working not profitability of a business the next few days,” the post states. “Please support our crew.”
Bauer said he was able to keep his staff busy yesterday by offering a 25% discount on food, but he noted the restaurant loses about 15% in the arrangement.
“I have to keep them busy,” he said.
Cara Erwin, director of communications for CU, said the utility is renewing gas and water mains in the area.
“We’re replacing mains due to the age of the mains that are currently there,” she said.
It’s part of CU’s 100-year renewal cycle, said Erwin. The goal is to replace 12 miles of water main and 13 miles of gas main each year.
Erwin said CU had a preconstruction meeting a month ago with Springfield’s Department of Public Works, the Downtown Springfield Association and some businesses.
“We laid out a rough timeline,” she said, “and we included any businesses that would be directly impacted.”
Those businesses also received a letter, she said, but added that Harbell’s appears to be outside of the area of what was considered to be direct impact.
Erwin said one lane of Campbell was expected to open at the end of the week, unless rain delays progress. After work is finished at the current site, the project will move to the intersection of West McDaniel Street and South Market Avenue, one block south and west of the current site.
Bauer told SBJ he had been in contact with a CU official.
“He has been very nice and helpful as can be,” Bauer said. “He just thought they went through the proper steps to inform, but somehow it was lost.”
He added that the city had apparently approved the road closures.
“I have a call in to them as well,” he said.
Bauer said he believes the city should have had signs up to notify customers that businesses remain open. In his conversations with CU, he said there was agreement that they should have done things differently.
“I don’t want to stop progress, and I hate to complain and boo-hoo about stuff,” he said. “It’s hard to see the looks on my employees’ faces. I can’t just tell my cooks, ‘Sorry, you can’t come to work today.’ That’s not fair to them. I’m just going to eat it and make sure people can still pay their bills.”
The Harbell’s Facebook page offers regular promotions, like all-day happy hour drink pricing every Tuesday. The construction was already occurring Monday. A post noted, “Don’t let the road closure fool you – we are open tonight for Monday Night Football.”
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