A burst pipe has left coffee shops without water and forced staff to turn away hundreds of customers in the past 24 hours.
Water began gushing up through the pavement and across Hendon Way after an underground main cracked outside Hendon Central tube station yesterday afternoon.
Thames Water is working to fix the problem but engineers are struggling to reach the leak through a tangle of wires and other pipes.
Nearby businesses have been without water since yesterday afternoon and the leak is having a damaging impact on trading.
Yousef Bakhtiari, owner of Posh Noosh café and kebab house was forced to close early yesterday and turned away dozens of customers during breakfast hours this morning.
He said: “It is very frustrating. We can’t serve coffee or tea or cook breakfasts. If this takes a few days it is going to cost us a lot of money. I’ve not heard anything from Thames Water about when it might be fixed. If they don’t fix it this afternoon we will have to close until it is back on.”
Costa Coffee next to Hendon Central station has also been unable to serve hot drinks to customers since yesterday evening.
Manager Tom Rostkowski said: “We’ve had to turn more than 100 customers away – it has cost us a couple of hundred pounds already.
“We have a lot of regulars and it is disappointing for everyone – I didn’t even get my coffee this morning.
“There is no information about how long it will take but we will stay open and serve whatever we can.”
Thames Water engineers blamed freezing temperatures over the past 48 hours for the crack in the pipe.
One lane of the eastbound carriageway has been partially blocked while the problem is fixed but traffic is moving freely.
A Thames Water spokesman said in a statement: “We're really sorry for the disruption this is causing but we are having to try and excavate the pipe by hand to replace it as it is tangled up with wires and pipes from other utility services. This is a complicated process but we are hoping to get it fixed by this afternoon."
Amaretto Coffee has also been affected but waitress Georgiana Bratuleanu said rush hour customers were understanding of the problem.
She said: “It is not good but not completely tragic – we can still serve food and cold drinks. We have regular customers so hopefully they will be back.”