CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On the evening of June 29, 45 wedding rehearsal guests were prepared to eat one of the last meals Bridge Road Bistro's late owner, Robert Wong, had created when the power suddenly shut off.
Another 100 people gathered at a political fundraiser at Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's house -- catered by the South Hills restaurant -- as 75-mile-per-hour winds knocked over a tree in the congresswoman's yard.
The windstorm -- and the two storms that followed -- showed up unexpectedly for most of the more than half a million West Virginians who lost power that night. Many businesses were still open when the storm hit. Customers were finishing dinner at eateries while others shopped inside stores as trees were uprooted and power lines broke outside.
Though unprepared, Bridge Road Bistro owner Sherri Wong said her staff was determined.
Employees lit every single candle in the restaurant and used flashlights to prepare more than 40 meals for the wedding party. Chefs cooked manicotti and chicken breasts on the kitchen's gas stove tops and gas-powered salamander.
The live music was appropriate, too: an acoustic guitar player.
"We Paul Revere'd it," Wong said, of making the wedding dinner a success despite the loss of power. "As days went on with no power, all we could do is sit and wait. We had to start from scratch."
Wong donated 72 pounds of vegetables, fruits, meats and dairy products to the Manna Meal soup kitchen before it could spoil.
Down the road from the bistro, Lola's pizza wasn't able to salvage its entire inventory in time during the first storm, said manager Andrew Crichton. About half of the produce and pizza dough had to be thrown away.
"We had a packed house Friday. People were waiting to eat while trees were falling all around us," Crichton said. "We lit candles and everyone said, 'Can I get another drink?' and we said, 'Of course you can!"
When the second storm hit the following Sunday, Crichton said Lola's was prepared. The pizza place stored its organic meats and produce in Glenwood Elementary School's refrigerators. People in the South Hills community who had power offered their fridge space to the restaurant, too, he said.
In St. Albans, Mayberry's Restaurant lost nearly $9,000 worth of food because of the storm, owner Lisa Driggs said.
The restaurant had stocked its walk-in freezer with food for Riverfest. Some was donated to the police and fire departments and cooling stations, but the bulk of the products had to be thrown away, Driggs said.
Mayberry's doesn't have backup generators, so the restaurant went without power -- and business -- from the night of June 29 through July 4.
Larobi's Pizza, also in St. Albans, saw a total loss of between $14,000 and $15,000 in the days following the storm.
Owner Jim Reed said it cost him about $8,000 to get back up and running after being shut down from June 29 to July 4. He estimated the pizza shop's closure cost him between $6,000 and $7,000 worth of business.
He has insurance, however, and he said Thursday he was waiting to get reimbursed.
Tung Luu, owner of Pho Vin Long in South Charleston, said the Vietnamese restaurant went without power for four days. The South Charleston eatery had to throw out its entire food inventory, about $5,000 worth, Luu said.
The storm didn't wreak havoc for every restaurant, however.
Happy Days Café in South Charleston had a line out the door on Saturday after the storm, owner Cathy Nelson said.
Residents who didn't have power in their own homes showed up to enjoy a meal and used the restaurant's electricity; people charged their cellphones and one woman even rolled her hair in hot curlers, Nelson said.
"We literally stayed open until we ran out of bread and ice," Nelson said. "I had no power at my house for days, but, by gosh, the restaurant had it. It was a very, very busy Saturday for us."
Main Kwong, on Charleston's East End, ran out of food at one point, owner Carina Kwok said.
The Chinese restaurant -- which depended on generators for a couple days -- lost its air conditioning and it got really hot, she said.
"It was the worst conditions we've ever seen in the restaurant. We couldn't breathe and temperatures got to 130 degrees in the back but we never closed," Kwok said. "We were so busy we worked from 7 a.m. to midnight. We saw probably a 35 percent increase [in business]."
Javier Valdez, manager at Cozumel Mexican Restaurant in the Ashton Place shopping center, said customers swarmed the restaurant "like it was Cinco de Mayo." Since most of the restaurants and stores at Southridge had completely lost power, the Ashton Place plaza was extra busy, he said.
Some stores at shopping centers along Corridor G were without power for several days.
GNC Manager David Shaffer said the company's power outage dramatically impacted its sales -- the franchise dropped from No. 1 in the region for sales to being ranked 26th out of 48 privately owned stores, he said. The vitamin and supplement store lost about $10,000 in revenue, he said.
"When the power went out, the door was closed and [the area] was vacated immediately like a ghost town," Shaffer said.