When Governor Ron DeSantis announced on a Tuesday morning on March 17 that he was taking action that would affect all nightclubs, bars and restaurants in an effort to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus, it didn’t come as a surprise to many of those establishments on Marco Island.
As of March 17th, by 5 PM, all bars and nightclubs will close for 30 days. Restaurants will now have a 50% capacity limitation implemented and will require seating to be staggered and limited.
When the Coastal Breeze News visited the Marco Island Brewery, one of their managers named Ashley advised us about the 5 PM seating at the bar. She said they would be restricted in both the inside and outside areas; the 50% rule would be enacted, and seating would be staggered 6 feet apart.
Bruce Hayne, the owner of Hoots, was reticent in his response, noting that they had already experienced a drop in business due to the issues surrounding the COVID-19. “People are just not coming out,” Hayne remarked. “I also worry a great deal about our employees, many of them have been with me for a long time.”
Both Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have removed all interior and exterior seating from their locations and were only doing take-out service or drive-thru.
When we visited the staff at the Sandbar, one of the new owners, Dan Collardy, had just stepped out, but Dina Schleifer was there to comment that they would be prepared to work within the Governor’s edict and understood the grave threat that the virus represented to the nation. While we chatted, the staff worked diligently to sanitize new napkin holders and condiment set-ups before returning them to the dining area.
Joey D’s, another popular Sports Bar and Restaurant, has also been affected by the onslaught of media coverage regarding the virus. Restaurant Manager Joey “C” admitted they had seen business fall off some over the last couple of weeks. “I’ve already begun to maneuver the sections around and our layout to adhere to the Governor’s wish to have us operate at 50% capacity and have staggered the locations. I’m a restaurant that has a bar, so I’ll be working to accommodate all those elements. One of the other changes they have instituted is to take off all the condiments from the tables and only provide them when asked for, therefore limiting the amount of sanitizing necessary.”
When asked how they would react to an order to only allow pick-up and delivery, Joey was positive as he responded, “If that is the request, we will abide by that. We already do a big take-out business and will ramp up to meet those needs.”
He, like the owner of Hoot’s, emphasized the need to handle the impact this was having on employees. “I just hope the government will put together a plan to deal with the impact this can have on the people such as servers and others. We can’t lose sight of these people and the effect these actions may have on them.”
Like many of their counterparts, CJ’s on the Bay owners Curt and Jacquie Koon were tucked away into a corner meeting with staff and discussing how to move forward. “We are prepared to do whatever it takes to work within the requirements to do our part to overcome this challenge,” Curt Koon stated.
Jacquie Koon also added, “One of the things we’ll be doing is cutting out the entertainment we offer that draws so many people here to the Esplanade. We are sad about that, but we know it’s the right thing to do.”
Laura Owen, their General Manager, was there working out the logistics of removing seating to meet the edict of a 50% reduction in seating and the staggering issue. “I’m confident we can make it work,” said Owen. “However, it will have a major impact on our business, no doubt about it. We will just have to wait and see.”
All of the restaurateurs we spoke to understood we were in uncharted waters, but we’re attempting to keep their spirits up and encourage their employees and customers alike.