Empty bars, restaurants new normal for usually bustling downtown Cape Coral

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Ciao Wood Fired Pizza in Cape Coral (WINK News)

The mayor of Cape Coral says there are no plans for a city-wide state of emergency or curfew because of the coronavirus, but that’s not helping businesses.

Bars and clubs are closed and now restaurant owners fear the worst.

Normally busy spots in downtown Cape Coral are pretty slow, which has become the new normal.

The walk-in fridge at Ciao Wood Fired Pizza is still full of food, but the Italian restaurant on Southeast 47th Terrace is empty.

“I have one employee who has four kids and that’s hard,” said the restaurant’s owner, Jill Bacus.

She told her employees to come and get the food still left inside or she’ll have to throw it out.

She decided to close her restaurant’s doors on Tuesday after the governor ordered all state restaurants only work at 50% capacity. The sign outside says it’ll remain closed for at least 15 days.

“We said, you know what, for the safety of our staff and the safety of our well-being, it was in our best interest,” Bacus said.

Across the Cape, city council canceled a meeting minutes before it was supposed to start on Wednesday, unable to reach a quorum because of health and safety concerns.

The Yacht Club beach is now roped off with yellow tape and closed until further notice.

“It’s a shock to see it empty because it’s always packed,” said Joseph Marshall who lives in the area.

It’s a feeling shared by this small, Cape Coral restaurant.

“Small business, it’s the heart of who we are so when it all blows over, come and support us,” Bacus said.

You may remember a lot of businesses here dealt with the streetscape project in downtown Cape Coral that affected some of their income.

Bacus said after that, this is like a second blow.

“We were shut down definitely five or six months where other blocks were five or six weeks,” she said.

Her restaurant, she says, felt like it was just getting back to normal, and now this.

“We always try to say, oh it only makes us stronger, but boy, this one’s a real kick. Yeah, it’s hard. And especially because we’re so small and our employees are family, and we care, and we want that whole circle of support,” she said.

Even though her restaurant is closed, there are still others open, especially in Cape Coral. That’s still allowed under the governor’s order, but they have staggered seating so you’re at least six feet apart. And, of course, you can pick up food to-go.

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