Herbie’s re-opens in Clayton following water main break, flooding

A popular restaurant in Clayton re-opened Thursday after it was plagued with a spell of bad luck due to cold weather and a gas leak in the last several weeks.

Herbie’s Restaurant, known for its French-inspired American dishes served in a stylish, old-school setting and located at 8100 Maryland Avenue, has been closed since Jan. 2, following a  water main break, frozen pipes and flooding.

The trouble began at the end of the year when city crews responded to a possible natural gas leak outside the building on a sidewalk directly in front of Herbie’s on Brentwood on Dec. 27. The leak shut off the heat that night but the restaurant re-opened during the holiday week, just before the cold conditions wreaked havoc on the restaurant.

The new year kicked off with a series of related problems when staff returned to work on Jan. 2, only to find that they didn’t have hot water and some of the water pressure wasn’t quite right.

The next morning, Herbie’s general manager Austin Gonzalez found standing water throughout various parts of the restaurant.

“We opened the next morning and about 30 minutes before we opened for service the dining room started filling up with water, the kitchen started filling up with water, and in a matter of about 15 minutes we were in an inch or two of standing water,” Martinez said.

One of the heaters responsible for heating the pipes down in the basement was not on, which caused them to freeze and break, Martinez said, causing about 1 to 2 inches of standing water throughout the building.

The bar was spared from the damage. But the other rooms were completely flooded. Herbie’s lost artwork, carpeting and just about everything in its cooler.

“We had to tear up all of our carpet that was destroyed, our walk-in cooler had about 3 or 4 inches of standing water in it, which got underneath the flooring of it, so that all had to be replaced,” Martinez said. “There were a lot of repairs that had to be done due to the unfortunate incident.”

The damage put Herbie’s down for about a week, and in that time the restaurant underwent several renovations, thanks to the insurance which covered the damages.

Herbie’s had multiple teams working on the renovations, including some managers who came in to expedite the process. Wednesday afternoon, new carpet was installed, signaling the grand opening for the restaurant, which opened its doors in Clayton in 2016 after moving from its original location in the Central West End.

Martinez said the partitions, which separated the booths, also had to come down due to a high volume of water damage. The renovations have created a much more elegant look, he added.

Martinez said he is grateful that his dedicated staff stood by the restaurant, even after being out of work for several days.

“Our biggest concern was getting back up as fast as possible and we knew it would take a toll on our employees. Most restaurants would close from somewhere between two weeks to a month for renovations,” Martinez said. “We just didn’t see that as a possibility because our employees rely on this as their livelihood and sense of income, so we didn’t really see an extended process being an option, and we’re grateful that they stood by us.”

Herbie’s is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, happy hour from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

“We’re very excited. There’s definitely a buzz in the air,” Martinez said. “It’s an unfortunate thing that we’ve had to go through but it’s created a much more connected vibe when you come in through the dining room and I think our guests will enjoy that.”

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