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Hysham's only restaurant forced to close due to unsafe water

Hysham's only restaurant forced to close due to unsafe water
Posted at 6:18 PM, May 10, 2023

HYSHAM — BW Grill & Bar's future is now uncertain after the Treasure County Health Department ordered the restaurant to close Tuesday because of Hysham's undrinkable water.

For the last week, Hysham has been under a "do not consume the water" order after the town's water plant's filtration system failed, which town officials say may have led to multiple contaminants in the water.

Owner BJ Schoelkopf first purchased the restaurant in Hysham in 2020 and never anticipated water to be such a problem for the business. In the written notice from the health department to Schoelkopf, it states that a different source of drinkable water must be provided to safely operate the business.

"If another means is not available, the business will have to be closed until the public water supply system is restored," the notice said.

Hysham's only restaurant forced to close due to unsafe water

Schoelkopf said another water source is next to impossible to get and having to purchase that much bottled water himself would not be feasible.

“It’s my livelihood. I mean, I just it’s being taken away by a situation that is out of my control,” he said Wednesday. “I worked hard for this. It's got new siding, it's got a new café, it's got a new menu. I did so many upgrades. If I walk away from this, it’s probably $200,000 that I walk away from.”

Schoelkopf does not blame the health department. He said the agency was very helpful and understanding.

But he said he is frustrated with the town leadership and has multiple questions, gone unanswered by the town, regarding the timeline of when the filtration system will be fixed.

“When I had the health inspector ask me, ‘Well, can we just use paper plates?’ I said, 'Well, yeah we can but I still have cutting boards, and I still have meal prep,'” he said. “Since I got no answers back, we (Schoelkopf and the health inspector) had to go to other sources. And they’re saying weeks and months and that’s the only answer that I get.”

Hyshams Mayor Larry Fink declined an interview with MTN News Wednesday to discuss the closure of BW Grill & Bar and the status of fixing the filtration system at the water plant.

“This obstacle is not something that is in my control, and I don’t feel it is in my control to ask the town to step up and help me out because it doesn’t feel like they’re behind me,” Schoelkopf said. “I can carry this business for two months. I can’t carry it through the summer, and I will probably lose it.”