Friday, March 7, 1997
Floating restaurants
along Kentucky shore
taking biggest hit

Excursion boats
become shuttles

BY CINDY SCHROEDER and GREGORY A. HALL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - As a veteran restaurateur on Northern Kentucky's riverfront, Alan Bernstein is used to weathering floods. But Mr. Bernstein says he's never seen flood water rise so high so fast.

The rising water has meant plummeting profits for Mr. Bernstein and other river businesses.

''I figure we're losing about $10,000 to $15,000 a day per (business),'' Mr. Bernstein said. Like many riverfront businesses, his establishments have been closed since Sunday night.

Mr. Bernstein owns Crockett's River Cafe in Newport, and Mike Fink's restaurant and BB Riverboats in Covington. He also is a partner in Covington Landing, which has branches of the Friday's and Applebees chains.

For the past three days, Mr. Bernstein and his family have used boats from their BB Riverboats to shuttle between their various enterprises, removing perishable foods for charity, checking the floating businesses for damage, and ensuring that none is taking on water or losing power.

On Riverboat Row in Newport, recorded phone messages at most of the six restaurants say the businesses are closed until further notice.

One of the few restaurants near the river to remain open, Deelites Dairy Bar in Ludlow, is doing its best business other than the July 4 holiday. But the owner wasn't gloating.

''I feel bad,'' owner Shelley Donlin said. ''I feel bad for all these people.''

Normally 100 yards from the Ohio River's edge, the one-story block building housing Combs Printing in Bromley is surrounded by water at least 2 feet deep, owner John Combs Sr. said.

On Monday, Mr. Combs moved as much of his equipment as he could to his brother-in-law's home in White Oak. He set the items that were too heavy to move up on blocks.

''I'll probably lose about $6,000 through my lost business and cleanup,'' Mr. Combs said.

''We're hoping to get in Monday to see what kind of damage we have and start cleaning up,'' Mr. Combs said Thursday. ''We hope to resume operation by Wednesday.''

In Bellevue, the Riverside 4 Boat Harbor was one of several businesses closed by the flood.

Nearby, the Envelope Printery on Eden Avenue was surrounded by flood water on three sides, but was still open Thursday.

''The front of our building is still accessible,'' said Ellen Dietz, a customer service representative for the company, which prints envelopes for Greater Cincinnati businesses. ''Most of ours is telephone business.''

In Dayton, only the Watertown Yacht Club and the Anchor Inn were affected by the flooding. Businesses in Dayton's industrial park and its downtown area are protected by a floodwall, City Administrator Dan Groth said.

''We just paid off that floodwall last year, and we're thinking that's not such a bad investment,'' Mr. Groth said. ''A flood this bad might only happen every now and then, but (the floodwall) saves millions in damages.''

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