Des Moines restaurant turns to crowd sourcing after financial hit

DES MOINES, Wash. -- Officials from the water district in Des Moines wonder if a recent E. coli scare may have been a false alarm.

While the investigation goes on, one restaurant lost so much money while it was closed that it's taking desperate measures to save the business.

The health department says E.coli was discovered Saturday night during routine tests and ordered 5,000 customers in Des Moines and Normandy Park to boil the water or drink bottled. The department also ordered 39 restaurants in the region to close during the advisory.

The boil order was lifted on Wednesday, but the restaurants took a financial hit by closing.

"Payroll is tonight, and we don't have it," said Adam Spear, the executive chef at The Scotch and Vine.

A combination of no water and no business left the restaurant with no money.

"Payroll is today I haven't got paid. My staff hasn't got paid, and I don't want to lose them. I don't want to close down," Spear said.

With few option, Spear cooked up a plan he hopes will save the day.

"I heard of crowd sourcing, (but) I never used it and thought I would take a chance," he said.

Spear whipped up a donation site that's asking for $10,000, and the restaurant only collects if it reaches the goal.

"As soon as I hit confirm I though, 'This is really awesome, or it's going to fail miserably,'" Spear said.

On Friday he got another sinking feeling. The water district still has no idea how e. Coli got in the water -- or if it actually was in the water -- because all the sources they checked are sealed and there is no way E. coli got in.

That brought them back to the spot were they got the first sample and a reading of E. coli, which led city officials to think it could have simply been a bad sample and the whole scare was for naught. Whether the threat was legitimate or not, Spear has to get on with saving his business.

"It is what it is, it's the hand we were dealt," he said.

As of Friday, businesses can file claims for damages, but there's no guarantee.

Johnny Bushong owns Sugar Cookies Espresso and says he's not worried about paying himself back, but is worried about paying his baristas.

"They depend on their tips," Bushong said.

Luckily, local restaurants have loyal customers, and many say they're going to help get the businesses back on track.

"As soon as it opens we're are going to come back and eat the largest meal we can," said Deborah Schuknecht.

The Scotch and Vine has already raised nearly $4,000 of its $10,000 goal. If you'd like to donate, you can do so here.