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Napa tourism industry takes hit, but vows to recover

  • A constant crowd came and went at the corner of Brown and Second streets in downtown Napa to get a close up look at the damage done by the early morning quake. "Wow, this is unbelievable," said Napa resident Eddie Henry, 49, when he came downtown with his wife and two stepchildren to see the damage. August 24, 2014. (Photo: Erik Castro/for The Press Democrat)

NAPA — August is a big time for Wine Country businesses, particularly restaurants and hotels, as tourists begin to descend on Napa and Sonoma valleys in advance of the crush season. It’s early, but area businesses say Sunday’s earthquake could have a huge effect on tourism, either by scaring tourists away or because damage has forced businesses to close their doors.

But, say many, the show will still go on.

“We’ll be open by tomorrow night,” said Bettina Rouas, owner of Angele Restaurant and Bar on Napa’s Main Street, one of the hardest-hit areas. “The first and most important thing is that everybody is OK and nobody was hurt and this didn’t happen during business hours. But there’s going to be a period of recovery. We lost 75 percent of our wine cellar.”

Napa Damage From 6.0 Earthquake


Rouas said she feels fortunate that her restaurant, which is located in an 1800s boathouse on the Napa River, didn’t sustain more damage.

“A lot of people got hit really hard,” she said. “It’s really awful.”

Across the river, the famed Oxbow Public Market, home to several restaurants and shops, lost power for most of Sunday. Several of its businesses fought to save perishables until the electricity was restored.

Peter Chenaux, the kitchen manager of Fatted Calf, a meat and fine foods purveyor at Oxbow, said workers managed to save all their meat but lost some products from their display wall in the shop.

“We spent a lot of the day cleaning everything up and praying the power would get turned back on,” Chenaux said, adding they kept the walk-in freezers closed to preserve their meat. “We’re planning on being open tomorrow, though. In general, I think we were lucky.”

Chenaux said a stream of people came by the shop all day hoping mostly to find something to eat as many of the usual places were closed. Next door’s Model Bakery is a local favorite for Sunday morning coffee and pastries, and several people left disappointed.

“They probably lost a ton of business,” he said. “But like I said, I think everybody here feels like it could have been worse.”

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