In The Great Blackout, Caracas Steakhouses Are Busier Than Ever


The staff at Maute Grill never stopped uncorking the bottles of fine Chilean reds. The place was packed at night, and the lights were on, while every inch of Caracas without a generator was in the dark.

The famed steakhouse has one, of course. “We’re attending to a specific kind of clientele,” said Ramon Villarreal, a waiter serving up sirloin steak and pork tenderloin to the lunch crowd Tuesday.

The great blackout — in its fifth day in some parts of Venezuela — derailed water service, stalled refineries, knocked the Caracas subway out of commission and carved another dividing line between rich and poor in a devastated economy. Those who can afford it have passed the time in power-flush restaurants and bars or booked rooms in self-sufficient hotels. Many of the rest are still putting the

Many of the rest are still putting their kids to bed by candlelight.

Electricity has begun flickering on in fits and starts, spurring mad dashes to charge cell phones and take stock of rotting food. But water service, intermittent in the best of times, is still dried up in much the capital, perhaps because pumping stations that dispatch supplies from area reservoirs haven’t been fired back up.

Actually, it’s impossible to know. The cause of the blackout is also a mystery. President Nicolas Maduro accused the U.S. of sabotage and opposition leader Juan Guaido blamed government mismanagement and neglect. Many Venezuelans seem to be inclined to side with Guaido’s theory, in no small part because they’ve been witness for years to a crumbling infrastructure. Reliable electricity, after all,

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