At Central Market it’s always a party.
And, as customers who were in the Fort Worth store Tuesday evening Oct. 18 can attest to, that is not just a slogan.
Around 6 p.m. the market on Hulen Street experienced a power outage. As before when it has occasionally happened, the natural gas-powered generator on the roof started, providing about 80 percent lighting and refrigeration.
However, this time the phones, computers and cash registers did not come back on immediately. And for some still unexplained reason they would not for a while.
But it was nothing a little champagne and a few truffles couldn’t handle.
“In typical Central Market style we opened up some champagne and truffles and turned it into a great time for everybody,” said store general manager Austin Jourde, who said the incident was a first in his 16 years at the market.
“The customers were fantastic. They knew it wasn’t our fault, and they liked the free goodies.”
Jourde said in all about 40 bottles of champagne and about 40 boxes of truffles were opened for the customers who were lined up 10-12 deep at each register.
“I had three truffles myself. It was during dinner rush, which is a busy time anyway for us, so I hadn’t had dinner,” he said, chuckling.
The registers finally returned to operation around 9, Jourde said. In the meantime, customers who had cash and/or checks could pay, though some of the price totals were simply approximations – in the customer’s favor, of course.
“It’s never about money, it’s about customers having a great experience, and they did in spite of the inconvenience,” he said.
Jourde said clerks were stationed outside to warn incoming customers of the register problems. Many still wanted to come inside, and once inside they joined the party.
“Everybody was so patient. They were just great,” Jourde said, adding that the treats were served for at least a couple of hours.
The store, which normally closes at 10, also stayed open late to make sure all of the waiting customers were able to check out.
“It’s about keeping people happy,” Jourde said. “Customers were commenting about what a great time they had.”