Diner stays open in Jackson for customers during power shutoffs

Local News
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JACKSON, Calif. (KTXL) — The owner of Mel and Faye’s diner in Amador county hasn’t had a chance to rest since the power went out Saturday in Jackson.

“Some people have hugged me, thanks for staying open,” said owner Bart Gillman.

On Monday, Gillman said he still hasn’t really slept.

“And there’s no chance to go home and take a nap, you really can’t tear away from it,” said Gillman.

Gillman set up multiple generators to stay open, including ones for cooking, appliances and keeping the kegs cold.

Since the 1950s Mel’s has been very popular in Jackson but it has never been more needed than the past few days.

“Sit at home and starve,” answered customer Ray Stults when asked what would people do if the diner was not open.

Using gas and people-power, Mel’s has stayed open when lack of power forced most other restaurants in the area to close.

Co-owner Maura Gillman said people aren’t just turning to Mel’s for food, she said they are also hoping for emergency employment.

“There are customers that are coming in that are crying, because they are not going to be able to make their rent, so they are asking us ‘Do you need help? Can we do anything?’ because wherever they work, it’s closed,” said Maura Gillman.

Former Paradise resident and Camp Fire survivor Tammy Buckles came to Mel’s to eat from neighboring Calaveras County.

“We lost our home, we were without a home for four months,” said Buckles. “Once we got the insurance money we moved and we came here.”

Buckles said she understands people’s frustration about the power shutoffs, but she believes if power was properly turned off last year in Paradise, her home may still be standing in Butte County.

“It’s not something that happens every day and I wouldn’t expect the rest of the world to understand,” said Buckles.

Gillman though does understand how much this community relies on his business and, while weary, he said he’s ready for the challenge of the next round of power shutoffs.

“Yeah, I’ll be ready… I guess,” said Gillman.


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