NORTH MIAMI, FLA. (WSVN) - Small stores and restaurants across South Florida are looking for options to stay afloat after being ordered to close their dining rooms, as health officials urge residents to stay home in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
In the wake of the emergency order that went into effect at 11 p.m. Tuesday, these small businesses are turning to delivery and takeout orders. For owners, the struggle to stay open is very real.
“We’re aware that it’s affecting everybody and we’re ready to take all safety measures,” said Elio Solari, the owner of Evio’s Pizza & Grill in North Miami.
However, Solari said delivery orders are steady, at least for now.
“For us, sales have not decreased yet. Obviously we’re vigilant to all the new information that’s coming out,” he said. “Hopefully we’re still able to operate as a delivery restaurant.”
While some restaurants can still offer delivery and to-go services, other non-essential businesses big and small, like retail shops and more, took another blow Wednesday night in Miami-Dade County.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered the closure of non-essential businesses starting on Thursday.
“All non-essential retail, including strip malls, shops, all of the malls in Miami-Dade County, everywhere in Miami-Dade County, they’ll be asked to close as of business tomorrow,” he said.
Gimenez said social distancing is the main reason more closures are coming down the pipeline.
“That’s what we want everybody to do,” he said.
The economic impact is being felt far and wide across South Florida.
“Most of our locals are scared to come in,” said Keith Freiman, owner of The Bake Shop in Dania Beach. “Business has dropped, I’m going to say, about 70%.”
While some orders are being filled online, as well as some customers ordering their baked goods to go, the revenue that is coming in is not enough. Out of his 12 employees, nine had to be let go.
“Everybody’s been with me two, three years, from the beginning and, I don’t know. All I can help them with is food for their families,” said Freiman.
Freiman’s story isn’t even the worst case. Business at Gigi’s Music Cafe in Sunrise is usually brisk, with live music and tables full of happy patrons enjoying a glass of wine and eating soul food, but for nearly a week, it’s been dead quiet.
“Not a dime, not a single dime have we made,” said owner Semone Brown-Mobley.
For the first time, they’ll try to deliver food to customers, but for a restaurant that prides itself on live music, it’s going to be an uphill battle.
“It’s going to be very different for us, and we don’t even know if it’s going to work, how long it will work. We have no idea,” said Brown-Mobley.
What can work is a loyal customer base, as Cesar Perez, the owner of The Spotted Gallo in West Miami-Dade, can attest. He said that’s what’s helping their business maintain half of their usual sales.
7News cameras captured the restaurant’s dining room completely empty, Tuesday afternoon.
But customers are showing up and ordering their food to go. Perez hopes sales will increase when they start home delivery.
“As soon as we post everything online and on our social media, I think that it will expand a little bit through the people and get some phone calls,” he said.
All of the business owners who spoke with 7News agreed that customers still receiving a paycheck should consider placing an order for delivery at least once a week, as it will help them keep their doors open for as long as these restrictions are in place.
Gimenez is expected to sign an order involving non-essential businesses in the county. For more information, click here.
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