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Riverbank Bar and Grill fights flood, prepares for bridge closure

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Businesses along the Illinois River gear up for potentially another tough flooding season.

After months of lost revenue due to COVID-19, one Pike County restaurant faces a new fight as water starts to rise.

The Riverbank Bar and Grill is fighting curbside pick-up, rising water and plans to close the Florence Bridge.

"It kind of feels like three strikes, we're almost out," Riverbank Bar and Grill manager Julie Borrowman said.

She said they can't catch a break.

"It's horrible," Borrowman said. "Obviously, it's not the same."

Borrowman closed up shop in March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They now are restricted to curbside pick-up.

"We've had to cancel the live entertainment, which always brings out a crowd and good times and revenue," Borrowman said.

On top of that, she now faces the rising water along the Illinois River, as Illinois restaurants await outdoor dining opportunities.

She said when they are able to open up for outdoor dining, the concern is that the patio will be under water.

"Right here, it's about, as you can see, a half an inch, to an inch away from getting up on the concrete right now," Borrowman said.

Just past the high water, Borrowman relies on the Florence Bridge to bring customers to town.

It's a bridge that come June 1, she said will be closed into August for construction.

"This is literally the end of the earth," Borrowman said. "When this bridge is closed, it is literally the end of the world."

Borrowman said they'll cross that bridge when they get to it. For now, the focus is on the flood.

"We just get in here and clean everything up," Borrowman said. "It starts there and then comes around the building and then it enters the building at 24 feet."

They are consecutive hits to a business that Borrowman said she never expected all at once.

"Everything hits," Borrowman said. "You just can't necessarily see an end in sight."

Borrowman said they plan to continue curbside pick-up for as long as the water holds off.

She said they do plan to offer outdoor dining, when they are allowed to do so.

Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat is a MultiMedia Journalist for WGEM News.

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