Freezing temperatures ruptured a water main at 100 W. Fourth St. in downtown Little Rock yesterday, causing flooding in the basements of Samantha’s Tap Room & Wood Grill and Soul Fish Cafe and the parking garage at 120 W. Fourth St.
Chris Tanner, owner of Samantha’s Tap Room, said flooding in the basement was probably 9 to 10 feet high before it started being pumped out.
“Everything we had down in the basement was underwater,” Tanner said. Casualties include compressors, walk-in coolers, beer, wine, food and a water heater.
“Everything down there is just fried, I’m sure,” Tanner said. He said initial concerns were that Fourth Street could potentially cave in to the restaurant’s basement. Little Rock Police closed Fourth Street to traffic Tuesday.
“The basement goes out beyond the footprint of the building,” he said. “When you’re walking on the sidewalk on Fourth Street, you’re walking over a part of the basement.”
Tanner said he could only speculate about all the structural damage because there’s still about two feet of water in the basement.
“Probably by tomorrow they’ll have most of it out and we can start assessing what’s going on,” he said. It will take some time, he said, to get everything cleared out, replaced and hooked up again.
In addition to Samantha’s Tap Room, Tanner owns Cheers in the Heights and The Oyster Bar. Due to lack of foot traffic downtown, Samantha’s was closed last year from March until September. The Oyster Bar was closed for renovations during that time period as well.
“It’s just another headache is what it is,” Tanner said. “You just get through all this shit, get all the restaurants finally half opened up, and then God Almighty, here we go again. But we’ll muscle through it and just be closed for a while.”
Tanner said he told his employees to hang tight. “We’re well insured, so I said, ‘Don’t anyone flip out, don’t worry, let everything run its course.’ ”
Soul Fish Cafe, located next door at 306 Main Street, announced on its Facebook page that it is closed due to the water main break and six feet of water in its basement.
Bruno’s Little Italy, located at 310 Main Street, has been closed for more than three weeks due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19, owner Gio Bruno said. “We’re all snowed in at home and only know what’s been reported,” Bruno said in a text message. “I won’t be able to go in and see possible damage until it thaws.”