SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico â? Since Hurricane Maria, Marlene Soto plus her husband, Joel Ortiz, are actually beginning their days at three or more: 30 a. m. to search for new ingredients for their restaurant, Happy Hamburger.
The coupleâs small business, in the coronary heart of San Juanâs Santurce area, had only been up and running with regard to four months before the Category five storm swept the already striving island. Before, they did their particular grocery shopping weekly. But now, without electrical power for refrigeration, each morning starts having a journey from supermarket to grocery store.
âThis whole situation feels like itâs out of a movie,â Soto told Yahoo Information. She said that everyone has been walking the price of meat, and bags associated with ice are few and far between.
The menus, handwritten by Soto in chalk each day, varies depending on what they are capable of procure from the picked-over stores every morning.
âTiene chuletas?â a man on a bicycle screamed to Soto from the sidewalk, requesting if she was serving pig chops today. No, she responded in Spanish, âWe have only grilled chicken with rice and beans. And burgers.â
While chain dining places like Outback Steakhouse and White castle can afford large generators to keep the particular lights on and their meals refrigerated, Happy Burger has been working in the dark â? and oppressive high temperature.
âItâs like an oven back there,â said Soto, gesturing towards the kitchen, where her husband has been manning the grill without any air flow. Outside, the temperature has been wavering around 95 degrees.
Still, they have got stayed open every day, providing the area with a much needed service â? till the sun starts to go down.
âNow that we donât have light, air, itâs busier now than it was before,â Soto said. âA lot of new people.â
Alanis Ponilla, who lives close by, had eaten at Happy Hamburger once or twice before Hurricane Maria, yet said sheâs been coming right here a lot more often since the storm.
âWe have no lights or water,â Ponilla said while waiting for the girl burger Thursday afternoon. âMy grandma has a gas stove, she cooks there. Or sometimes we go out and eat.â
âThis one is really unique, itâs better,â the girl said of Happy Burger, when compared to bigger chain restaurants that collection the streets of San Juan and much of the metropolitan area. In addition, she added, âItâs close to where I live.â
Ponilla was portion of the steady stream of customers filing straight into Happy Burger on Thursday mid-day, waiting for their to go orders on the unlit countertop inside, or consuming at the partially shaded table in the sidewalk. Among them was a group design workers in reflective vests â? locals whoâve been hired simply by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help with repairing the damage brought on by Maria, Soto said.
âI recognize that other places outside the metropolitan area are in much worse shape than we are,â the girl said. âI hope that since people come here during difficult times, they will continue come when things are back to normal.â
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