ENCINITAS — Suffering catastrophic flood damage in early April, Encinitas business Cuppa Juice Garden Cafe faces an uncertain task of fundraising during a pandemic and filing a claim against the city.
On Friday, April 10, a city drainage system broke on the property that houses Cuppa Juice and Sunshine Gardens, releasing a massive flood of runoff onto the property, the flood line reaching 5.5 feet high at its deepest.
“We are devastated. We’re done,” said Adam Seligman, Cuppa Juice co-owner and manager. “Every piece of equipment, everything is done for.”
Co-owner Brock Matthias recounted the morning of the flooding.
“When I arrived early in the morning around 8 o’clock there was 6 inches of water flowing into the restaurant,” Matthias said.
When the water didn’t drain, Matthias said he packed up his stuff and headed home for the evening, deciding to come back the next day and clean up minimal water damage after the storm.
“At 6:30 that night we began to get phone calls and messages from people claiming there was up to 5 feet of water. Just, wow.”
The reason for the damage, detailed Matthias, is unfinished drainage construction by the City of Encinitas.
The city has been aware of the damage and has required repairs since Dec. 26, however, they did not proceed with construction, leaving the drainage system vulnerable to flooding from mass rain totals.
Through the week of April 6, the city saw a record amount of rainfall, 7.3 inches falling on April 10 alone, flooding parks, businesses, as well as residential areas.
In regards to the flooding, the city of Encinitas said, “There were significant rains last week that caused flooding in various parts of the City. The runoff exceeded the capacity of our storm drains. It was a most unfortunate act of nature.”
Now with the property destroyed and upwards of $700,000 in losses, Cuppa Juice’s co-owners, as well as their landlord, are looking for answers and financial assistance.
“We don’t know what we’re going to do,” co-owner Michelle Matthias said. “All of our money was put into this restaurant and now because of the drainage system, it was flooded.”
A loyal customer set up a GoFundMe for Cuppa Juice; the owners, however, don’t believe it will be enough.
The one thing all of Cuppa Juice’s owners can agree on is how much they love the area and that they would like to stay in Encinitas.
“All of us are locals. We all went to Torrey Pines High School together,” Michelle Matthias said. “We’re all raising our kids here and we want to stay here. We love it.”
In its short two months of business, Cuppa Juice had quickly grown a loyal customer base. With the natural barriers between its deck and the busy street, a small playhouse for children, tables for sitting and the nearby Sunshine Gardens, parents with children enjoyed the space.
“It was a great hangout for moms and families,” Seligman said, the restaurant bringing in crowds their very first week in business.
In an attempt to keep staff employed and begin cleaning up the damage, Cuppa Juice’s owners also applied for a coronavirus relief business loan from the IRS. They were denied, however, due to the federal government’s funds running out.
For now, the future of Cuppa Juice in the midst of a pandemic and a devastating flood is uncertain, a casualty of unexpected spring rains and, the owners claim, poor city maintenance.
Those looking to donate to Cuppa Juice’s GoFundMe can find their fundraiser here.