The time has come! Finally, one of the things we’ve all been waiting for is here. Restaurants are reopening and we can all rejoice. Or can we?
This week Miami-Dade County began to lift the restrictions it placed on restaurants almost two months ago in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. In March restaurants and many other establishments like hair salons and clothing stores were forced to close their doors. The impact, both emotional and financial, hit the city with the force of a category 5 hurricane. Restaurant owners had to lay-off most, if not all of their staff causing many to rush to apply for unemployment to no avail. Although that saga is a story for another day. Businesses pivoted left and right. Some opening up for takeout while others became grocery stores, selling high priced wines and fresh produce for next to nothing. Anything to stay afloat. Campaigns to #supportlocal ran rampant through platforms like Yelp urging people to please stay home but also to order takeout from their favorite spots. All in an effort to keep even the smallest revenue stream flowing. There wasn’t a single channel you could switch in or editorial you could read that didn’t mention corona viruses’ effects. You saw chefs. Amazing chefs, many of whom we consider, along with their restaurants to be pillars of our community talking to media outlets on the verge of tears. Not knowing if their beloved restaurants would survive.
We are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. What should’ve been a 25% partial reopening for restaurants quickly became 50% with Mayor Carlos Jimenez petitioning Governor Ron DeSantis to let us skip ahead. On Monday we saw many spots reopening around Coral Gables and Kendall with the City of Miami following suit on Wednesday. While it’s a step in the right direction I would be remiss if I didn’t add how disheartening it is to see places that were once bustling tending to a table or two at a time. Realistically many of the places we love may never open back up. We’ve already seen it with multiple restaurant closures being announced daily. Even national giants like David Chang recently closed his iconic Momofuku Ssäm Bar. And once we do reach full capacity nothing will be the same. Eater did a great piece on what the dining scene is like in Hong Kong. Full of masks and protocols gunning for minimal interaction. As a PR/Marketing professional who has worked with restaurants for years I thrive off the energy of a full dining room brimming with laughter and wine. It’s obvious that won’t be our new reality for a while.
Consumer behavior can often be hard to gauge and though it’s only week one, it’s clear that people are very scared of the real threat that is a second wave. It will take time for buyer confidence to come back. But I have faith in Miami and our country. In light of all the bad I want to applaud our amazing city and its inhabitants. Miami is so beautiful and full of resilience. I am perpetually in awe of its ingenuity and spirit. Of how all our business owners were willing to pivot and to do whatever it took and will continue to take to keep us keep moving forward. So much creativity has come out of what seems like something out of a movie. From restaurant relief funds to virtual happy hours and so many initiatives to give back to those in need we’ve made it happen. That is the gravitas that makes us one of the greatest places in the world. We truly are a magic city and we will get through this, hopefully stronger on the other side!
Cindy Ferreiro is a local public relations and marketing professional specializing in food and beverage. As a UM alum she considers herself cheerleader for our beautiful Miami community. You can find her on Instagram giving wine recommendations and sharing her travels.