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Tuesday, July 11, 2000 Practice makes perfect for Fresh Fields crew

by Rose DeWolf

Daily News Staff Writer

All that practicing for how to handle a possible Y2K computer meltdown (remember that?) came in handy when a Peco Energy power failure shut down the Fresh Fields Whole Foods Market in Franklintown.

Yesterday, the plan that wasn't needed on a cold New Year's Day worked just great on a hot July day, according to Christine Chula, store team leader at the natural-foods supermarket at 2001 Pennsylvania Ave.

Fresh Fields was among some 4,200 buildings, including the Daily News and the Inquirer, that lost power in Center City when a 13,000-volt cable failed yesterday morning.

When the power went out about 10 a.m., Fresh Fields was ready. Employees quickly went to work, removing perishable foods to coolers or freezers operated by back-up generators, she said. About 1,000 pounds of ice was delivered from vendors which was packed around meat and seafood. The temperatures in the cases were checked every 20 minutes to make sure the food stayed fresh, she said.

But the ice cream, well, they just handed it out free.

Chula said that at 1 p.m. she was getting ready to call in some refrigeration trucks when the power went back on.

"When we were planning for Y2K, we made sure that there were refrigeration trucks in the area," she said, adding that the store practiced their contingency plan in preparation for the New Year.

Even with power back on, the store didn't reopen its doors to customers until 4 p.m. Having put all the perishables into safe storage, it took time to move them out again, Chula explained.

"We first bring the service cases back to the right temperature and hold the temperature there for a while before we begin restocking them," she said.

"And the [computerized] cash registers have to be re-booted."

By 6 p.m., it was business as usual, with a store full of customers, and even ice cream back on the shelves.

Yesterday was supposed to be Chula's day off. But giving that up was also part of the contingency plan. "And we missed our lunchtime business which is usually big on Mondays," she sighed. But she noted that those disappointed yesterday should be able "to get their vegetarian burritos" today.

-- (, July 19, 2000


This is cool. Now if other businesses could just make simular plans, it would come in handy if they have power problems too.

-- Cherri (, July 20, 2000.

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