The spirit of giving has been strong in the wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic at the Carvelli Restaurant Group’s Marco Island eateries.
Customers have shown extraordinary generosity in donating funds to the restaurants’ staffs to mitigate wage stemming from COVID-19 caused closures. The company has also been providing staff members with a free meal daily at any of its four restaurants: DaVinci Ristorante Italiano, The Oyster Society and Marco Prime Steaks and Seafood in the Marco Walk Plaza and the Snook Inn Restaurant the Chickee Bar in Old Marco. On top of that, Carvelli Restaurant Group has been providing meals to first responders and nurses at no charge.
Known for its live music, the Snook recently brought pleasure to performers and their audience by erasing the separation between them, in a virtual sense, with its Snook Inn Music Week. Held April 13th through April 19, the program enabled viewers to enjoy music from the Snook’s regular musicians, two different artists doing double two-hour-long sets a day from the comfort of their own homes. The performances were offered on the restaurant’s Facebook page, which included virtual tip jars for the artists.
“I think it was a really fun, different, unique idea that took off,” said Megan Criser the Snook’s Manager. “We were really excited about it.”
Taking the stage, via cyberspace, were artists who were scheduled to perform at the restaurant during the tourist season, such as Mark Thompson, Acoustic Fire, Bill Beck, Tommy D., the Elliott West Band, Boyd Baker, Autumn Tselios and the Pretty Good Band and Snook Inn stalwart Duncan Wheeler, who’s been performing there for 33 years.
“I thought it was a nice concept,” said Wheeler. “It’s nice because it makes us feel like life is a little bit normal when we can set up and play.”
When the Restaurant Group purchased the Snook from longtime owners Dennis and Laurie in 2017, retaining what made it popular while making it a bit trendier was a goal for Luigi Carvelli, who oversees the restaurant, and Criser. She said the entire Snook Inn team continually brainstorms to come up with ideas for events that accomplish that task.
Inspiration for the Music Week struck one evening while Criser was checking out Facebook and saw that musician friends from Palm Beach were playing live, as were some of the regular performers at the Snook.
“So, I started talking to Luigi about us maybe sponsoring them,” she explained. “Our Facebook page has about 14,000 followers and I told Luigi, ‘How cool would it be if rather than them playing live to their maybe 500 followers, they come onto our platform with 14,000 followers and give them a virtual tip jar so they’re able to make some money? We’ll also be able to give our friends and our customers and our community something fun to do for two hours every day.’”
Luigi Carvelli gave the idea his blessing and when Criser reached out to the musicians, they enthusiastically got on board.
“We were able to very quickly get something going and all the musicians who’ve played this week were really excited about it,” she added. “I think it’s been really enjoyable for all of us.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ March 20 order to close bars and the restaurants to shutdown business has spurred customers to show their concern for workers at the four restaurants, which Luigi Carvelli owns with brothers Sal and Francesco, and their cousins Adamo and Francesco Serravalle.
Criser said that at the Snook, management and staff found out about the governor’s order only two hours before the mandated closing time and the decision led one customer to act.
“A regular was at the bar as we went around telling everybody we’re sorry, but we have to close and without any question in his mind, he just gave a $1,000 tip for the bartenders that were working, knowing they weren’t going to be making any money for a while,” she recalled.
At the Oyster Society, a $10,000 donation was received for the restaurant’s 60 employees. Criser said it came from “just a very loving and sweet couple” who had only dined there a few times.
In the note that accompanied their check, the couple wrote: It’s in times such as this that we wanted to be a good neighbor and to do a little something to help out. God has been so faithful in blessing us and we want to be a blessing to others…
According to Criser, these gestures from the community have delighted the hearts of everyone at the restaurants and provided a needed spark.
“We’ve seen a lot of generosity,” Megan Criser added. “We’ve had people come into parking lots and ask how many people are working and then give them each $20 right then and there. I think in the community, everyone is in the same boat; they’re working at home or in a new environment or not working at all. I think we’re all doing our best to help each other out during these desperate times.”