Categories
Articles News

NEWS: Early voting starts today in Hillsborough County

Vote By Mail has been breaking records in Hillsborough County this election, but it’s not the only option. For voters who prefer to vote in person, Early Voting begins Monday in Hillsborough County. In Hillsborough County, Early Voting is open for 14 days, from October 19 through November 1, 7AM to 7PM, including weekends.

Hillsborough County voters can choose from any of 26 Early Voting
locations to vote. This is different from Election Day, when voters must vote in the polling place assigned to their precinct. Each Early Voting location will also have a curbside, Vote By Mail drop-off tent for voters who want to turn in their Vote By Mail ballots in person.

“We are a large county and I want our voters to have plenty of options, so I’ve added extra sites and we will be open the maximum number of days and hours allowed by law,” said Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer. “In these uncertain times, I encourage voters to vote early if you can. If you get sick, or someone you care for gets sick, you may not be able to vote on Election Day.”

Early Voting for the General Election includes two new sites, at Amalie Arena and Raymond James Stadium. The voting sites in those locations will be similar in size to other large Early Voting sites in the county,
including the sites at several libraries and the University Area Community Center.

The elections office has taken extensive measures to ensure the health and safety of in-person voting, and has posted a video preview on the 2020 General Election page of their website.

Only a limited number of people will be allowed inside to ensure social distancing, and surfaces will be cleaned throughout the day. Poll workers are required to wear masks at all times, and face shields or plexiglass barriers will provide additional protection.

Supervisor Latimer asks that all voters wear masks and will have them available for voters, if needed. And, voters will get their own combination stylus/pen to sign in and mark their ballot.

“With ongoing cleaning and limited capacity, in-person voting will go a little slower, but once voters are inside the polling place, they should be able to move through quickly,” said Supervisor Latimer.

Voters should bring a Florida Driver License or other acceptable photo and signature ID for voter checkin. If they forget their ID, they can vote a provisional ballot to be verified by the elections office. The full
list of accepted IDs, along with a list of Early Voting locations, can be found on the Early Voting page of VoteHillsborough.org.

“The drive-up Vote By Mail drop-off tents are a contactless way for voters to cast their ballot in person, so I expect this option to be popular. We’ve sent out more than 405,000 Vote By Mail ballots and we want to
see those voted ballots come back in,” said Latimer.

Voters can still request a mail ballot online at VoteHillsborough.org or by calling (813) 744-5900.

Categories
Articles News

List: Tampa Bay + Orlando Restaurants maintaining social distancing rules despite Governor DeSantis

For some strange reason the Governor of Florida decided to move Florida into Phase 3 of the reopening from Coronavirus. There are no statewide rules on capacity or restrictions in restaurants in bars. Just weeks ago bars and breweries were closed due to the spike they contribute to the pandemic.

Governor DeSantis is now calling for packed football stadiums in the middle of a pandemic that has killed more than 15,000 Floridians and over 219,000 Americans in just a few months.

Some restaurants and bars said they will still maintain rules though and the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County have pledged to maintain things like mask rules in place (for now). Here are some of the places that are pledging to maintain rules:

Categories
Articles Beer News

NEWS: Coppertail Brewing in Ybor City celebrates 6 years

Coppertail Brewing Co. located in Ybor City is celebrating their 6 year anniversary with a crowd-sourced mixed 4-pack of Hop Skull IPAs. A little over a month ago, fans were asked to vote for their favorites of the Hop Skull Series and the top three would end up being re-brewed and released as part of an assorted 4-pack.

The fourth beer in the 4-pack is Coppertail’s Sixth Anniversary Hop Skull Triple IPA. This hazy IPA comes in at 10.5% and features Chinook, Citra, Loral, and Bravo Hops with their house haze strain. The
beer features notes of citrus, apricot, and pineapple with a sizable malt backbone to make it the “juiciest” IPA they have ever made.

The three winners of the voting contest were Hop Skulls #3, #5, and #11 which are all hazy IPAs.

“It feels great when you hit those milestones and the whole team wants to get together and celebrate. This is the best way we could think of to celebrate that milestone and still keep everyone involved.” says Kent Bailey, President at Coppertail Brewing.

The pack was released on Friday, August 28th, at Coppertail’s Ybor City location tasting room ONLY in a mixed 4-pack and on draft. It is also available as a standalone 4-pack. Commemorative shirts and glassware are available for purchase as well as a gift pack containing a shirt, 2 glasses, a mixed 4-pack and 2 free beer tokens.  

Coppertail Brewing Co. is an independently owned production brewery in Tampa, Fla, founded in 2014 by homebrewer and reformed attorney, Kent Bailey and professional brewer, Casey Hughes. The two wanted to bring more hop-forward and Belgian-influenced beer to the thirsty masses.

Find more information at Coppertailbrewing.com/HopSkull

Categories
Articles

Do This 2020: Register to VOTE

Many people have more time nowadays than they simply know what to do with. There is something really important that YOU can do today though. Register to VOTE.

It’s easy just go to www.vote.gov to find out the correct information for your home state. Each state has different deadlines to register. For those in Florida you can simply go to registertovoteflorida.gov to register.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020.

2020-11-03T00:00:00

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

Election Day

If you have already registered, you can check your registration status to make sure your information is correct before Election Day approaches.

Did you already register to vote? GOOD. Register a friend or family member. All you have to do is send them them the link to register to vote. It’s as simple as sending them the link http://www.vote.gov. Registering someone to vote could make every bit of difference in our future.

No matter your party affiliation, everyone should make their voices heard this November. It is your civic duty.

I know it’s hard to think about things like voting with all the things happening nowadays, but voting is vital to our future and to our democracy. Make a difference.

Categories
Articles

Pro tip: Do not threaten struggling small businesses with ADA lawsuits you jerks

At the end of an uninteresting 4th of July weekend, I was scrolling on Instagram as I heated up some leftovers and read a post from The Lab Coffee in North Hyde Park that infuriated me.

A customer told them they will be hearing from the ADA (Americans with Disability Act) and City of Tampa for refusing them service without a mask.

During a time when Tampa Bay is ranked 3rd in the nation for growing Coronavirus cases with over 19,000 locally and growing, the least thing you can do as a decent human being is wear a mask.

If you’re unable to wear a mask for some reason, you should order delivery or make your own food at home.

What you should not do is harass a local business that has been through one of the biggest interruptions of our time with your pompous attitude that literally nobody cares about and threaten them with a lawsuit.

A friend of mine who owns a local salon told me she encountered a similar situation and had to involve lawyers. What she found out is that customers can be turned away because it is a violation of OSHA for workers to be put at risk with the Coronavirus which is even worse for employers.

Other lawsuits are underway around the country including 32 lawsuits against Giant Eagle supermarket in Texas for requiring masks and several lawsuits around Florida to drop mask mandates and ordinances all together.

Folks. A mask is NOT a political statement. Masks are about saving lives.

It is proven that masks can help save lives and the refusal of customers and especially Floridians to take action to protect their fellow Americans is exactly why hospitalizations are on the upswing and cases are out of control. Florida added nearly 30,000 cases in one weekend.

If we do not stop the spread eventually Florida will be forced into shutdown like Arizona and Texas…then businesses will be forced closed again and millions of people will lose their jobs and livelihoods again. Is that what you want?

Be responsible. Wear a mask. Don’t torture others because you don’t want to be considerate and stop being a jerk.

Categories
Articles News Restaurant News

Coronavirus: Over 20 restaurants in Tampa Bay will not open dining rooms on May 4th

Governor Ron DeSantis will allow restaurants in Florida to re-open dining rooms on Monday, May 4th, 2020 at 25% their usual capacity and unlimited capacity on patios as long as “social distancing” is maintained.

Over 20 Tampa Bay restaurants have decided not to re-open their dining rooms on May 4th. Most have said that they want to protect the health and safety of their employees and customers and will continue takeout or delivery if currently operational. Some are still working on a plan on how exactly to proceed.

Florida currently has 36,078 Coronavirus cases and 1,379 Floridians have died so far. Over 600 cases were added in the last 24 hours and several experts have said that Florida does not have proper testing in place to stop a new outbreak of the virus in the state.

Here are statements from some of the restaurants who will not be opening their dining rooms on May 4th:

  1. Siam Thai Garden: The St. Petersburg restaurant located at 3125 Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Street North posted on Facebook: “We believe things are too unpredictable right now to safely open for everyone, and people should come before profit. As a Thai saying goes, “To maintain your health is a fortune in itself.” They will continue to offer takeout and delivery. Find them at siamgardenthai.com.
  2. Bento Restaurant Group: This large restaurant group shared to their fans “As you may know, the mandatory closure of all dining rooms will be lifted in several counties across Florida as of this Monday, May 4th. The health and well-being of our team, guests, and community are still our top priority, so we have made the decision to keep our dining rooms temporarily closed. We will continue to offer takeout and delivery until we feel it’s safe to reopen our dining rooms.” eatatbento.com
  3. Columbia Restaurant Group: Ulele and Columbia restaurants have remained closed during the pandemic although Goody Goody Burger re-opened for takeout recently in South Tampa. Their owners shared, “While we’re now allowed to reopen, we will decide what that means for each of our restaurants. It might mean takeout or outside seating at some of our locations, but it’s too soon to know what or when (except for Goody Goody, which began takeout only on May 1). Whatever happens will be gradual, and safe for our guests and staff. We’re also watching other states very carefully to see what happens with restaurants there.” ulele.com columbiarestaurant.com goodygoodyburgers.com
  4. Cassis: The popular Downtown St. Pete restaurant and bakery posted that they will remain closed for now. Cassis posted “As of now, we are currently keeping the doors to our restaurant and bakery closed. We miss all of you so much and want our next evening together to be one that is safe and celebratory.” cassisstpete.com
  5. Pia’s Trattoria: “After much pondering we decided NOT to open this coming week for sit down service. As much as we would like to open our doors again, we don’t feel ready yet to welcome you. To make it a really safe operation for everyone involved and still provide an enjoyable experience we have to take many steps and think ahead. Employee training and repositioning, facility set up, special sanitary stations and -tools, strict guidelines, are just some of them. To bring our employees out of unemployment and you into our dining areas we need to get it all right, NO mistakes can be made. We are working hard on it, please be patient and stay tuned! ❤️. We will keep going with curbside service while we working on these necessary upgrades. Thank you all for your understanding!” piastrattoria.com.
  6. Jesse’s Steak and Seafood: This Brandon eatery shares “Although restaurants have been cleared to open at twenty-five percent capacity beginning May 4th, our dining room will remain closed until Governor DeSantis clears businesses for Phase 2. We have made this decision based upon both economical and safety concerns. We will however continue our curbside pickup and delivery, which is available through MobileMeals. We are also taking this opportunity to do some remodeling and necessary maintenance. We appreciate all of the continued support we have received from our community of loyal customers and look forward to seeing all of you in our dining room again soon!” jessessteakandseafood.com
  7. Soho Sushi + Yoko’s Classic Japanese Cuisine: The two popular South Tampa eateries posted similar messages: “While we are excited the Governor has initiated Phase One (which includes the ability of restaurants to operate at 25% capacity), we have made the very difficult and cautious decision to keep our dining room closed for now. In the meantime, we can continue to offer 20% off your curbside carry out. To place your order you can call, order online or use new SoHo Sushi mobile app. In addition, we’ll continue our delivery services through Uber Eats. You health and safety are our priority. We are completely overwhelmed by your support during this extraordinary time. Our hearts are full. We look forward to having you join us in our dining room soon.” sohosushi.com yokostampa.com
  8. Red Mesa Restaurant: I Love The Burg reports this statement “Red Mesa Restaurant Group will remain take out and carry out only until we feel it is safe to resume normal business operations,” said Tony Pullaro, Marketing Director. redmesarestaurant.com.
  9. Ichicoro Ramen: “In consideration of our team and safety, our Seminole Heights dining room will temporarily remain closed as we continue to monitor the situation. We are reviewing the changing restrictions and guidelines to inform all our decisions, making sure we serve you the absolute best way possible. We truly appreciate all the support and love we have received and will continue to do our best to support you back. We love you all #ramenarmy. Be safe. Be well. Above all remember, #weramenthistogether“. ichicoro.com
  10. Japanese Kitchen Dosunco: “For your safety and ours, we will not be open for dine-in. However, we will continue making takeout orders! Stay Safe Tampa Bay!” facebook.com/DOSUNCOTAMPA
  11. Sushi Ninja Tampa: This Korean and Japanese concept shared: “Both locations’ dining rooms will continue to remain closed until we are comfortable and confident that our staff, their families, and our community will be safe and healthy. We will continue to operate curb-side pick up for our customers.” Visit them online at sushininjafl.com.
  12. Cuenelli’s Peruvian Rotisserie and Grill: “Dear customers are a business, Cuenelli’s has decided to maintain our current operations and we are limiting ourselves to carry outs & to-go’s only until further notice. We value your business and we are eagerly working on a plan to return to our full operations soon.”
  13. Shuffle Tampa: “We are on this call and will be letting everyone know soon what our plan will be. We will NOT be opening to the public this week. Our takeout for next week will be Tuesday and Friday for now. Please maintain social distancing and stop hugging us. ❤️💙💛💚💜”. shuffletampa.com
  14. Bake’n Babes: This bakery from Tampa Heights will not be opening to the public at this time according to Owner Julie Curry. They will be doing delivery with Uber Eats and contactless pickup on Saturdays. bakenbabes.com
  15. King State: “As we head into this week, our dining room will remain closed for the time being. Lots of unknowns, lots of differing opinions, so we are going to take a little more time and make sure when we come back, it makes sense for our guests and everyone involved. We’re still crushing online & call ahead orders! As always, thanks for your support & we’re stoked to see you all inside whenever that may be! We’ll keep you posted! ONE LUV. YUH.” king-state.com
  16. Hawker’s St. Pete: “While we would absolutely love to break bread (er, Roti) with you guys while sitting around a Hawkers table catching up on great conversation, we have to make sure we are putting the safety of our team members and our guests first and foremost. We are already taking incredibly extensive measures to ensure the safety of all takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery orders, but we also recognize that there are numerous additional steps that must be taken, beyond what has been outlined by elected officials, to ensure the safest possible dine-in atmosphere for our team and our guests. We simply need more time to implement these dine-in safety measures, while also giving our team enough notice to make the necessary arrangements for their families as they prepare for a safe and steady reopening.” eathawkers.com
  17. Russo’s NY Pizzeria – Clearwater: “We’re hopeful and excited that Florida is slowly reopening. Restrictions for restaurants have begun to loosen but we have decided we will not open our dining room at this point for the new 25% capacity limit. We have been extremely fortunate to safely serve you through takeout, curbside pickup, free delivery and delivery via third party. We’ll continue to focus on operating safely in this fashion while we take some steps to get ready to open our patio and dining room. Click the link to see all our current specials and call us at 727-648-4304 to order this weekend. Thank you so much for your support.” nypizzeria.com/clearwater/
  18. Casita Taqueria: “While we’re beyond excited we’re also cautious. We have decided to keep our inside dining closed until we reach Phase 2. Casita will continue with curbside pick-up and online ordering. Our locations will proceed with outside patio dining and have spaced those tables accordingly per the CDC guidelines. We want to make sure your family is protected as well as our employees.” casitatacos.com
  19. Casa Tina: The popular Mexican eatery will not be open for Cinco de Mayo, but is doing a virtual Cinco de Mayo that is currently sold out. “We need to slowly work our way back to serving in the safest most responsible way that we can..I don’t like the uncertainty, I’d rather be cautious and safe. We’ve been so blessed to have our staff that we have had for many years…We want to see how it goes. We want to be cautious. We need to tread very carefully. It is our life. 28 years. We live for our business.”. casatinas.com
  20. Pacific Counter: “We have decided to stay the course with Takeout and Delivery for the time being, but will be setting up outdoor tables for guests to dine at if they’d like to remain on premise” from I Love The Burg. pacificcounter.com
  21. Coppertail Brewing Co.: “We are very eager to open these doors back up but at this time we are going to take it slow. While we could operate at a limited capacity, we will not be opening up for onsite food or beer consumption. Take out and to-go sales will continue until we feel like we can responsibly have groups in our establishment. All of this is to keep our staff and guests safe in a still uncertain time. We will keep everyone updated as we learn more and feel we are making the right decision. We miss you all, appreciate your continued support and truly can’t wait to have everyone back.” coppertailbrewing.com
  22. Ella’s: “The future is uncertain, and although we can’t wait to be able to see and serve you again, we feel that the today’s opening of Florida restaurants is a bit too soon for us here at Ella’s. We will continue to be here for all your take out needs and are working on a safe and sustainable plan to ensure the safety of our guests and our staff. Please stay tuned!”ellasfolkartcafe.com
  23. Rooster & The Till: “As the state works to open up slowly, we are not opening up our dining room just yet. We’ll continue to offer Rooster Re-Dux togo options either by calling in, or Uber Eats until we announce otherwise. Please continue to support and order togo food, and our Sunday Supper Club meals – We appreciate your support, and thank you for ordering with us. This is a fluid situation and we’re going to do what is the best and safest option for our guests and employees.” roosterandthetill.com
Categories
Articles News

Coronavirus: Orlando eatery unleashes PR crisis after saying “we are over this” and opening to angry Floridians

It is well-known that Governor DeSantis is racing towards a plan to re-open Florida in the near future. Task force members have met in recent days to discuss plans. However, one grilled cheese restaurant in Orlando area jumped the gun (Florida proverb) though and announced recently on their Facebook page “we are over this” and said they plan to open their restaurant dining room on May 1st.

What ensued afterwards was a preview for what will happen when Florida forces itself back open. Polls today show that over 70% of Floridians support social distancing rules and the current stay-at-home orders, showing that those protestors appearing on television are nothing more than an astroturf campaign funded by political groups and do not represent any major group.

One comment read “You’re over this? My grandma f*cking died because of this so I’m sorry for inconveniencing you by trying to avoid more unnecessary deaths”.

Another one said, “Guess which cheese-themed restaurant we’re all gonna be going to from now on??? Idk, but NACHO RESTAURANT”.

Some threatened to report the business to the state and also dug up their inspection reports with one person commenting, “Would you like to comment on your 14 restaurant inspection violations on March 29, 2019? Or most recently the 5 violations on November 6, 2019? Surely you’re prepared to serve food and dine in guests in the most pristine restaurant available in a post-pandemic world, right??”.

The restaurant responded to customers and actively attacked them back in what can only be described as a PR nightmare that certainly is a warning sign for other businesses out there.

The Getaway in neighboring Tampa Bay also recently had major issues when the owner recorded herself discussing employee pay and caused an uproar that led to alleged death threats and a temporary closure.

33 & Melt has since been deleted their initial post as as well as an apology that went south.

Users flooded the restaurants Facebook page and left 1-star reviews across the internet. People tagged the media and attempted to voice their concerns and anger.

Here’s the thing: most people understand that small businesses are hurting, people are reading the news and doing their best to order take-out and delivery during this time despite salary cuts, layoffs, and all around economic depression.

At the same time, the public is very concerned about their safety and the safety of employees at businesses, who are are increasingly being hospitalized and dying across the nation in essential businesses from grocery stores to meat packing facilities.

Over 40% of Americans now personally know someone who has become sick or died from COVID-19. Over 45,000 Americans have died in 2 months and thousands are currently dying every day.

The public feels a general anxiety about opening and the best way to get their support is to gradually win it over and consider all parties involved as you make announcements. Taking too harsh of a tone invites pushback and only will lead to harm to your business.

With sagging profits already an issue, the last thing any business can afford right now is a boycott (ask Shake Shack).

If you plan to re-open, make sure you communicate how you’re going to do that in phases (when the time is right), how you will work to protect your employees and customers, and how you most importantly listen to the advice of professionals. Partner with your local officials, you will need it.

If your business is really struggling, make sure to communicate that. Ask for help. The public is willing to try and support you, but first you have to respect them as well.

One of the things I have noticed the most writing about food over the last 10 years is that businesses never communicate that they are dying until it is too late. Ask for help. Be real with your supporters.

The reason why the task force exists at all is because if businesses plan together, they will have more support for re-opening in the future. If large corporations feel like they need to win over consumer sentiment and safety, there is no reason that a small business won’t find itself in the same dilemma.

Situations like these harm the ability of all businesses to move forward in the future with plans to restore consumer confidence. The reality as well is that the Florida public does not currently support re-opening and that will play a big role in how businesses are able to move forward.

Safety first.

Categories
Articles News

Task Force to Re-Open Florida Prioritizes ‘Consumer Sentiment’

I took some time earlier today to listen in on the Re-Open Florida Task Force Industry Working Group. The discussion today was about tourism and the restaurant industry, two industries I am quite familiar with as a food writer in Florida.

A number of CEOs and advocates for industry players spent time talking about their recommendations for Florida to re-open for business. One thing most of them left out was the vital importance of widespread testing and how Florida still is not at a stage where opening is safe for the public.

Most speakers on the call brought up the fact that Florida’s small businesses in the restaurant industry may not survive if they do not re-open in the next month or so.

There was plenty of commonalities between speakers with most of them stressing consumer sentiment and employee safety. The executives seemed divided on how exactly that could be achieved, but they all agreed if they cannot achieve those basic tenets that it will be dangerous for them to re-open.

Things mentioned included masks, temperature checks, phases of social distancing, bacterial cleanings of hotel rooms, PPE, paid sick leave, among other things. Stakeholders mentioned that without these things employees would not feel a desire to return to their jobs and that the public would be uneasy to come back.Subscribe

Notably, these materials are barely available at the moment for our healthcare workers who are currently in hospitals being forced to re-wear and limit masks and there is a nationwide PPE shortage. Different hospitals seem to have different supply access, although doctors and nurses continue to protest a lack of supplies as recently as today.

These materials also seem to be missing in our nursing homes which are experiencing spikes of coronavirus outbreaks across the state with over 300 ALF facilities currently dealing with positive coronavirus cases impacting patients and employees.

Jose Cil, CEO of Restaurant Brands International, discussed how his company had dealt with outbreaks of COVID-19 at other locations around the country and world with shutdowns and cleanings to try and raise consumer sentiment and that his company has spent a heavy amount of marketing capital to reassure customers that takeout and delivery are safe. One thing I noticed was that the steps he mentioned his company takes are recommended to franchisees, but not necessarily required or forced on them.

One of the main issues with choosing to re-open restaurants is that COVID-19 can be spread through droplets and even through breathing from those infected with the virus, a study from Iceland says an estimated 50% of carriers are asymptomatic, therefore it would be hard to know who actually has the virus without more intensive testing. Another study recently reports that 9 people became infected when sitting next to a COVID-19 carrier in a restaurant.

It would be very difficult to ensure that COVID-19 could not be spread in a dining room to employees and other guests. One of the solutions that was proposed was to slowly lift social distancing in phases as Florida monitors the virus.

The amount of oversight to enforce any of these things sounds like it would be quite a burden for the state to actually implement and would most likely leave the burden on businesses themselves.

The task force lacks any doctors to recommend how to proceed, which is remarkable considering that Florida continues to have hundreds of hospitalizations and dozens of deaths nearly every day so far. Without any doctors on the task force, it seems we are forced to trust business professionals whose first priority seems to be sagging profits and a dire need to restart.

During the phone call, bed tax and sales tax revenue were brought up over and over again as hotel owners and restaurant groups reminded listeners that the state funds rely on taxes from their industry to function.

Hotel CEOs called for beaches to be opened again as amenities so that “guests can have something to do” and announced advanced talks with local officials around the state to have beaches open as soon as May 15th or earlier, according to Cody Kahn, Holiday Inn Resort Owner. The frustration with the current social distancing efforts was noticeable in the tone that Kahn displayed on the phone call.

Kahn brazenly attacked “fake news” and “CNN” media for their role in the current crisis and commended President Trump for doing a great job, despite over 45,000 Americans deaths in the last two months and climbing. The comments did not seem constructive to the goals of the task force and were aired on live television and throughout Facebook and social media websites.

One of the most bizarre parts of the phone call was when Visit Florida President and CEO, Dana Young, called for a marketing plan that would pitch Floridians to take a vacation within the state and support local businesses since the state cannot currently rely on international travelers to fuel Florida’s tourism industry as COVID-19 continues to spread.

This plan seemed tone-deaf and completely disconnected from a world where hundreds of thousands of Floridians are waiting for their unemployment checks to be processed after weeks of issues online and can barely eat at the moment. Will those jobs that were lost magically come back when Florida re-opens as the rest of the nation battles COVID-19? That remains to be seen.

Perhaps a more prudent plan would be to defund Visit Florida and to hand the taxpayer money back to citizens who desperately need money to survive right now? That’s my thought anyway.

Walter Carpenter, NFIB Florida Leadership Council Chairman, brought up the federal Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans and said they will not be a panacea for small businesses and that ultimately re-opening is the only choice for small businesses.

PPP loans recently made headlines when they were discovered to be misused this past week and brought into the hands of 71 publicly traded corporations including Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Shake Shack, who returned the loan after fierce criticism that continues for Ruth. The so-called small business fund was quickly exhausted and although Congress has passed an additional package, they did not close the loophole that will allow corporations to swallow the funds. Most experts say the new funds will only last 72 hours when they are released to banks.

Ultimately, there is no perfect solution to the current crisis Florida faces and coronavirus continues to spread across the state as businesses feel continued pressure to pay rent and employees without aid.

Opening too soon could have dire consequences. If the deaths rise too fast and become a public health emergency as many epidemiologists are currently warning, Florida could be forced to close again and that may tarnish consumer sentiment in the long-term for these businesses that are already struggling to survive.

View this post on Instagram

A message from our fearless leader @foodchainz: “In order to maintain a comfortable level of safety for our staff and customers, Grindhouse will not open its dining rooms on Monday, April 27th. Despite the announcement from Gov. Kemp to encourage reopening, we feel it is far too soon to allow on-site dining. That said, we will continue to offer pickup and delivery via DoorDash. We’re grateful for the outpour of support received from our communities during this difficult time. It’s been our privilege to serve you in a meaningful and safe way. We look forward to continue providing that experience while keeping the health of our patrons and staff a top priority.” – Alex Brounstein, Owner | Grindhouse Killer Burgers ________________________ So, Grindhouse Family, while we’re anxious to fully reopen, we’ve decided against it for the safety of our customers and our staff. When we feel it’s once again safe and responsible to host you in our dining rooms, we’ll make an announcement providing a specific date and details. Til then, we’re still here for your takeout needs. In addition to the regular menu, our special Provisions Menu for cook-at-home options is also still available. _______________________ Stay safe and smart out there! _______________________ See how Grindhouse and other #ATLrestaurants are responding to #GovernorKemp. Article link in bio.

A post shared by Grindhouse Killer Burgers (@grindhouseburgers) on

Several restaurants in Georgia announced today that they will not re-open despite Governor Kemp declaring that all restaurants will begin to re-open on Monday, as he lifts the stay-at-home order in his state. Many restaurants voiced concern for their employees health and their customers, customers also rallied to punish businesses who put their employees health in danger.

This balance will be very important for Florida to consider as Governor DeSantis pushes for the state to re-open and President Trump calls for an end to stay-at-home orders. We could have a bigger crisis on our hands with a false start and most businesses seem to be leery of that potential that could be on the horizon soon.

Public safety needs to be the top priority. I believe the working group should seek more input from doctors and ground their approach in science or they may lose consumer sentiment and employees in the long-term as well as tarnish their brands and put Florida into a major crisis. The state should seek more relief for more businesses as soon as possible, they will need it.

People don’t need to “seem comfortable” they need to actually be safe.

Follow Carlos Hernandez on Twitter @CarlosEats or visit him at CarlosEats.com

Categories
Articles Food Events

NEWS: Dunedin Stone Crab Festival this weekend

The annual Dunedin Stone Crab Festival is this weekend at Edgewater Park. The food festival is free to attend. 20 vendors will serve up stone crab dishes and a variety of seafood for attendees.

Proceeds will benefit Homeless Empowerment Program (HEP), whose mission is “to  break the cycle of homelessness for any individual or family who comes to us for assistance.” Find out more about HEP at hepempowers.org.

The event is organized by Olde Bay Café & Dunedin Fish Market.

46981064_551948688564001_8523769663483566127_n

Offerings will include:

  • local stone crabs (Florida caviar)
  • fish tacos
  • burgers and hotdogs
  • ceviche
  • crepes
  • blue crabs
  • Maine lobster
  • shrimp
  • Mexican food
  • Thai and Vietnamese cuisine
  • BBQ

Arts and craft vendors will be around the event and there will be live music for attendees to enjoy. All ages are invited to attend and the event is pet-friendly as well.

Make sure to bring cash or you can use the ATM at the event (for a fee).

71003861_2469857989925866_8633336894383456256_o (1).jpg

Event Name: Dunedin Stone Crab Festival

Venue: Edgewater Park

Address: 51 Main Street, Dunedin, FL 34698

Date & Time: Friday, October 18th, 5PM-10PM, Saturday, October 19th, 12PM-10PM

Cost: Free to attend

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1000507790338829/

 

Categories
Articles News Tourism

NEWS: ACLU issues travel alert against State of Florida

The ACLU has issued a travel alert against the State of Florida due to a new immigration bill currently going through the Florida Legislature called SB 168 and HB 527. People of color and immigrants are warned that Florida could begin racial profiling, false detainment of U.S. citizens, and even false deportation if the law passes.

“Last month, a report revealed that in just two years after agreeing to work with ICE, Miami-Dade County records showed that 420 people listed as U.S. citizens had false detainer requests issued against them.”

“As recent cases illustrate, U.S. citizens have been kept in jail away from their jobs and families, and they have faced the terror of being told they would soon be deported from their only home. Many have spent time in immigration jail, and some have even been deported. Local police and sheriffs, in turn, have faced immense litigation costs and damages liability to the U.S. citizens they have held for ICE.”

Lawsuits have filed against cities and counties, with Florida taxpayers ultimately footing the bill for false detainers.

Thomas Kennedy, Florida Immigrant Coalition Director, shares, “Taking precious local resources away from law enforcement to further target Floridian families for deportation comes at an extremely high financial and moral cost. The insidious attacks against immigrants on the national level are being amplified by Florida lawmakers pushing for anti-immigrant policies”.

He continues, “Florida lawmakers need to realize that there will be consequences for attacking our families. The world is watching Florida right now, and what we do next as a state will determine whether people will still want to visit us and if industry leaders still feel comfortable doing business with us.”

Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the sunshine state and any kind of travel impact could be detrimental to the state. 118.8 million visitors (not residents) visited Florida in 2017 according to Visit Florida with 14.4 million of those visitors being international visitors. Visitor spending directly and indirectly supports 1.4 million jobs in Florida.

Tourism growth is currently booming in the state and any slowdown would be a tragic turn of events.

Immigrant and civil rights groups releasing the alert are ACLU of Florida, Alianza Americas, Engage Miami, Faith in Florida, Family Action Network Movement, FL Student Power, Farmworkers Association of Florida, FLIC Votes, Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees, Mi Familia Vota, Miami Workers Center, New Florida Majority, Organize Florida, QLATINX, United We Dream, and WeCount!. National partners include: ACLU, Advancement Project, America’s Voice, Community Justice Project, National Latina Institute, Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, and UndocuBlack Network.

More information: