Severe Weather

During Hurricane Matthew, the Floridian Kept Serving Folks Without Electricity

Amid the gusts and downpour of Hurricane Matthew, the Floridian never stopped serving folks hearty plates of diner food. The legendary Las Olas establishment lost power around 8 p.m. with nearly 40 patrons inside but didn't slow down.

A waitress delivering an order of chicken tenders and sandwiches to a table in the dark exclaimed, "We have a saying around here: 'The show must go on.'" 

At 8 p.m., a section of Las Olas Boulevard around SE 15th Avenue lost power. It was pitch black outside. The traffic lights were out too. The Floridian looked closed. Its windows were boarded up with metal shutters. Only when the headlights hit them could you make out the black graffiti scribbled on them: "We are open 24 hrs." Dozens of people sat inside eating, seemingly unfazed that they were without electricity. 

A group of four friends curled around the diner were enjoying themselves. They continued eating, laughing and joking between bites. "This was, like, the only place open in Florida!" a young man named Jono exclaimed.


His friend, a young woman named Lindsey, agreed. She thought it was exciting that the electricity went out. "This puts a little spice into things," she said. 

"This is the hurricane party! We brought our own flashlights," their friend, Tracy, pointed out. "We just hope our windows aren't blown out when we get home."

The Floridian's kitchen was pitch black. Only silhouettes of chefs could be made out. They were shuffling around, lighting their cooking area with cell phones. They kept ringing the bell to alert servers that an order was ready.

One patron named Rick Linzell, a yacht manager who lives nearby, ordered grilled cheese and bacon. As it was delivered to him, he explained that the cooks were using propane stoves and therefore didn't need electricity. The only hiccup he noticed was that the place had to revert to cash only.

"Things were a little louder, and then they were little quieter," Linzell says. "Once you realized that no one is hurt or that the storm isn't going to get bad, everybody had a good time."

In less than an hour, the Floridian's power was restored. But by then everyone was full, and no one minded. 
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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson