WATERVILLE — More than a dozen businesses, including a supermarket and restaurants in the Elm Plaza, scrambled to serve customers after an underground water pipe broke early Wednesday morning.

In all, about 15 businesses at the Main Street shopping center had to figure out how to serve customers with a flooded parking lot and no running water.

Laurie Stanhope, assistant manager at Subway, said the restaurant closed because there was no way to maintain sanitation standards without running water.

She said the business would feel the loss of its breakfast and lunch crowds on what is usually a busy day of the week, but she hoped to reopen in time for dinner.

In the meantime, she was taking advantage of the downtime by doing cleaning and maintenance work.

Water service was restored to all the businesses by late Wednesday night.

Andy Rosenthal, who has owned the plaza for 50 years, said the problem was first reported to his company when someone noticed water bubbling up at 5:30 a.m. into the parking lot.

Rosenthal said contractors shut off the water and dug up the faulty section of pipe, which had cracked for unknown reasons.

“We’ve never had a problem with that water line before,” Rosenthal said. He said it was unrelated to earlier flooding that caused a large hole to open in the paved parking lot in February.

Shortly before noon, Rosenthal said that, barring unforeseen complications, the water service would be restored by mid-afternoon. By early evening, however, a crew continued work to restore water to the area.

In the early morning, a large section of the parking lot was flooded.

Michael Norton, a spokesman for Hannaford Bros., said the Hannaford supermarket was forced to cordon off a section of its parking lot because of the flooding, and it brought in portable bathrooms for customer and employee use.

“The parking lot is important because it is one of the things that makes it easy for customers,” Norton said. “Regrettably, today, it is not as convenient for them.”

Norton said the company does have a clean, portable water supply that is not connected to the plaza system, allowing its workers to wash their hands and maintain sanitary conditions.

Charles Giguere, owner of Champions Fitness Club, said his business, too, brought in portable toilets by about noon. Giguere said he planned to keep the fitness club open.

“You don’t need running water to play tennis,” he said. “You just have to shower when you get home instead of showering here.”

Giguere said customers were being notified of the lack of running water as they came in the front door.

Rosenthal said McDonald’s was the only business outside of the plaza to be affected, because it used to be a part of the plaza and is serviced by the same private water line.

It remained open during the day, as did most other businesses, though the Subway shop remained closed in early evening.d Garden Island Dry Cleaners and Laundromat and Verizon Wireless also were closed.

Michael Ortins, the owner-operator of the McDonald’s location, was unavailable for comment because of a family matter, according to Kristel Wagner, a spokeswoman for Rinck Advertising, which provides communication services for area McDonald’s locations.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287 [email protected] Twitter: @hh_matt