The Frugalista Life

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Tampa Bay’s Black-owned restaurants fight the effects of Coronavirus

When the Coronavirus first hit, no one thought the resulting pandemic would change our lives indefinitely. We knew it was real when our favorite restaurants changed how they operated as a result of closures. It’s like we all went from planning our outfits for weekend brunch to Zoom meetups online with our friends. Now, the restaurant occupancies are increasing so we can do a little bit more than last month.

The Coronavirus came to this area and Tampa Bay’s Black-owned restaurants were hit hard so they got creative with keeping their customers fed and satisfied. A few restaurant owners tell me their firsthand accounts on their thoughts about the Coronavirus and how it affects them:

“Tampa Bay’s restaurant industry is adapting to an unprecedented pandemic that’s changed the landscape forever in just two months. Tampa Bay’s Black-owned restaurants were no exception, and a few are coping with the coronavirus by thinking of innovative ideas to keep their loyal customers interested.

“All the big cities started to get hit first so I was hoping it wasn’t going to come to the smaller cities,” Maxim Thurière, co-owner of Downtown St. Petersburg’s Copa (stylized “COPA”), tells Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.

Once it was clear the state would be affected, he realized the restaurant would have to close at some point. Maxim and his brother, co-owner Sébastien Thurière, are relatively new to the hip restaurant scene in St. Petersburg after opening Copa Lounge—located at 1047 Central Ave. in St. Pete’s Edge District—less than a year ago. Because of his degree in biomedical science, Thurière could explain exactly what the pandemic was and what it meant for Copa and its employees.

“We closed and focused on some other stuff for a month. It’ll give us a chance to take a step back and look at everything we were doing like repairs, renovations, and improve,” Thuriére explained.

Heavy’s Food Truck co-owner Kendrick Scott was planning to open a brick and mortar location of his restaurant when everything happened. The bulk of Heavy’s revenue comes

from various catered events so he’s anticipating the country reopening to 100% capacity. He says they’re making it these days by parking on different street corners selling food to those driving by.

“Between March 14-April 3, we lost $40,000 in revenue with canceled catering because everyone was shutting down,” Scott says, but he didn’t shut down because he needed to keep a revenue stream for his employees.”

To read more about how Rona is affecting Tampa Bay’s Black-owned restaurants and how they’re coping currently, go here.


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