Companies from across the South have descended on Mayflower to help contain an oil spill, and their vehicles filled a shopping-center parking lot.
And those companies’ employees filled restaurants.
An employee of United States Environmental working on the spill carried a stack of 20 Pizza Pro boxes out to the company truck Monday to go with the 30 footlong sandwiches he’d ordered from Subway.
Both restaurants in the Shannon Square shopping center, east of the subdivision where the Exxon Mobil Corp.’s crude-oil spill originated, said business is up since the influx of responders to the city.
“Actually, it’s helped us, because we’ve sold a lot of pizza,” said Walt Hollis, part owner of Yogo City, which also has the Pizza Pro franchise.
His son and co-owner, Jason Hollis, said business was up “probably 25 percent.”
Walt Hollis said he had made about 75 pizzas by 3 p.m. Monday for the emergency responders, primarily Exxon Mobil employees. That didn’t include the lunch buffet, which attracted other employees, he said.
Approximately 330 Exxon Mobil workers were responding to the spill Tuesday, according to the company’s website, in addition to county, state, federal and private entities involved in the cleanup.
A couple of doors down, Subway General Manager Brandon Holman of Conway, a Mayflower native, said Monday that the shop’s business had picked up since the spill.
“Actually, these workers have been coming in keeping us busy,” he said.
He said the United States Environmental employee came in Monday to order 60 more footlong submarine sandwiches, following a previous order for 50 sandwiches, but “I told him, ‘I can’t do it. I don’t have the bread for it,’” but Brandon had enough bread to make 30 more sandwiches. On Tuesday, he sold 140 sandwiches to the workers.The number of trucks in the parking lot “has discouraged my regular customers from coming in, though,” he said.
However, Holman said Exxon Mobil employees have “been real helpful” and concerned about air quality in the business.
He said they brought in gauges to test it, although he wasn’t in the restaurant at the time.
Holman said he was working Friday and was walking across the parking lot to Centennial Bank to make deposits about 3 p.m. when he noticed the strong odor.
“It almost smelled like a natural-gas leak,” he said.
He saw firetrucks and knew something was wrong, he said, “but I didn’t know it was that bad.”
The Environmental Protection Agency designated the incident as a “major” spill because it exceeded 250 barrels. Exxon Mobil reported Monday that 12,000 barrels of oil and water had been recovered.
At press time, the cause of the ruptured pipe was unknown.
Holman said he closed early Friday, at 9 p.m. instead of 10 p.m., “for our employees’ safety.”
Harps Manager Chris Burns said a few of his employees complained about the smell, “but no one complained about it making them sick.”
“It’s not real far behind the store where it happened,” he said, referring to the Northwoods subdivision.
“Business seemed almost normal,” he said, following the spill.
“The biggest hindrance we’ve had is our parking lot, full of tankers and trucks. … It’s necessary, though,” Burns said.
An Exxon Mobil employee said people have been kind.
“We’ve had people come up and give us fruit — apples and oranges and bananas. How cool is that? That’s God’s work right there,” he said.
Jason Hollis said the increase in sales may be slowing.
He said Exxon Mobil told him a catering business would be coming in on Wednesday to serve the company.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.