South Florida staple, Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant opened just days ago for the 2020 season. In the middle of a pandemic, you can expect to see some changes.
NBC 6 anchor Sheli Muñiz spoke to the owner, Steve Sawitz about what the restaurant has done to prepare for this hectic year.
SHELI: What can people expect to see this season?
SAWITZ: The first big change is we opened up an outside area under a tent and a nice casual waiting area next to that. Inside the restaurant, every drop of air is being treated with UV lamps and air ionizers. We were able to gain a lot of experience with customers and curbside taking, when we kept the Takeaway open this past summer.
SHELI: Being closed for the summer, what advantages does it offer then when you are trying to work through a pandemic?
SAWITZ: We were able to get all of our windows and doors replaced with hurricane-proof doors and glass. The other advantage is you get a little bit of rest, but on the flip side of that, we had so much preparation and so many things to think about when it came to opening the restaurant. In May, we thought we would be able to open possibly in June, finally restaurants were open but then they had to get close down again in July and August. We were at a complete advantage at that time because we didn’t have to open and we typically stay closed for the summers anyway. We’ve adjusted to it, just not this long.
SHELI: When we last spoke in May, you said your great grandparents had weathered a lot in the restaurant’s century-old success, i.e. the 1918 Spanish Flu, multiple wars, do you still think this pandemic takes the cake?
SAWITZ: Yes, I do. I think this pandemic takes the cake especially because we built our society up to the point that we have, and there are more people and we are way more interdependent than we’ve ever been before. I’ve asked my mom who was a little girl during World War II, how this compared and she said, “this seems to be worse.” Sometimes childhood memories are a little bit different than adult memories.