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Stores like the Fresh Grocer put out signs to inform shoppers of the outage.

Credit: Lauren Feiner

The power outage that knocked out several Walnut and 40th street stores on Sunday finally ended by 1:30 p.m., when all the stores appeared to be back up and running, but the source of the problem is still a mystery to customers and workers in the area.

Around 11 a.m., several buildings on Walnut between 40th and 41st streets, as well as on the 4100 block of Locust Street, lost power. Store operators along Walnut Street said Penn maintenance staff told them buildings in a four-block radius were affected. 

Many stores put up signs explaining the closings due to lack of power, including CVS, Fresh Grocer and Greek Lady. Capogiro was operating at the time, but accepting cash only. However, just a few doors down, McDonald's, Hummus and Metropolitan Bakery had their lights on during the peak of the outage.

City Tap House tweeted that power was back on around 12:30 p.m. CVS and Fresh Grocer opened around 12:50 p.m., faced with a rash of customers at the checkout lines. 

After noticing Chipotle's sign saying it would open at 1 p.m., lunch-goers began to line up in front of the closed doors. Customers were forced to wait a little longer when Chipotle staff realized the kitchen vents were not working. The store officially opened within the next 20 minutes.

"We haven't been open at all until just now," kitchen manager Sam Ames, 26, said. "We've been losing a lot of money."

When the power outage hit CVS, a worker went to find Penn maintenance personnel, who told the store operators they were working on the issue. CVS supervisor Andre Waite, 22, said when the power came on he was not sure if full power was restored or if they were operating on generators.

"I'm just happy we're running again," he added. "We lost a lot of business."

Before shutting down because of the outage, some stores continued to serve the customers inside. "We had two guests in here at the time, and they were able to sit down and finish their food because we brought it out to them right when the power went out," said Bobby's Burger Palace manager Monique Powell, 34. Fresh Grocer also checked out the customers in line before closing its doors.

Workers along Walnut Street speculated the previous evening's heavy snow could be related to the outage. By Sunday morning, the snow had mostly melted into large puddles of water that covered the roads and sidewalks along 40th and Walnut streets. 

The Philadelphia Fire Department could not confirm the power outage and deferred comment to the energy company PECO. PECO could not be reached for comment before the time of publication.

Some of the stoplights in the area were affected as well. While stores mostly continued at normal by 1:30 p.m., the lights on 47th and Walnut streets continued to flash red and yellow as drivers passed slowly through the intersection. 

In an unrelated incident, the fire alarm at Bobby's Burger Palace was accidentally set off on Sunday morning before the power outage. Because the restaurant's fire alarm is linked to the Radian's fire alarm, residents in the Radian were evacuated to the lobby area and outside of the building. Later on, when the power outage hit, many residents were forced to leave the building again.

"We're just dealing with a lot of problems this morning," an AlliedBarton guard working in the Radian said.

This article was last updated at 2:11 p.m.

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