South Florida

How South Florida Restaurants are Fighting to Stay Open During Latest Covid Spike

NBC Universal, Inc.

As Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on South Florida, restaurant owners are taking a step back to figure out how to adjust.

“We’re thinking these next 30 days are going to be the highest peak of infection,” restaurant owner Carlos Gazitua said. “So we’re thinking, how do you stay open the next 30 days? What’s your strategy going forward?"

Gazitua is an executive member of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. He says the hospitality industry must pivot once again, even reverting back to the changes restaurants had to make at the start of the pandemic.

He says part of the plan is to refocus on take out, try to rely on minimal staff and get creative with technology.

“Right now I have restaurants that have robotics. They have robots that bring out the food and I’m adding to more for one to be the busser and one to be the food expediter," Gazitua said.

In Miami, Andreas Schreiner, a founder of the open-air restaurant Leku says they had to make the tough decision to close for 10 days. Wednesday was their first night back.

“It was difficult obviously a financial decision that hurt us, but more importantly it’s always about making sure that our staff and our families and our clients are staying safe,” Schreiner said.

The good news, they’re booked and busy. Schreiner says people are still excited to go out to eat.

But in order to serve the customer and give them a great dining experience, the staff needs to be feeling 100 percent.

“We can’t afford to have extra staff on board not doing anything to cover the staff that might get sick or that might call out at some point. Unfortunately our business can’t rely on that,” Schreiner said.

The seats are now filled at Leku, but other restaurants in South Florida are still figuring out how to move forward.

The concern is that once someone calls out sick, the omicron is so contagious and it can really wipe out a business, but these restaurant owners say they are working hard to plan ahead and hope this is the worst of it.

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