Wet weather causes mixed outcomes for businesses Memorial Day weekend

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

Wet weather made for a soggy Memorial Day weekend, and many restaurants are relying on their outdoor seating as they recover from weeks of shutdown.

From the restaurants we spoke to it was boom, bust and everything in between. It seemed to be different everywhere.

And whether a place brought in business so desperately needed, owners told us it depended on breaks from the storms.

And, because of the coronavirus pandemic, outdoor seating is more popular than ever before.

“We’re fully open top to bottom,” said Chad Zollinger, the owner of 10 Twenty Five restaurant.

Hearing customers talking, hearing glasses clinking and rain sometimes pouring, it almost sounded like a normal Memorial Day weekend in downtown Fort Myers.

“It’s been great,” Zollinger said. “It reminds me of last year, almost like no COVID-19 style

But, this year, coronavirus sounded an alarm, shutting down restaurants, such as 10 Twenty Five, down until just this month. And this weekend was the restaurant’s first go at grabbing back business.

Rain and all, customer brought umbrellas because outdoor seats are literally worth more to restaurants right now, the owner of First Street Restaurant & Bar told us.

With coronavirus, many customers at least feel safer in the open air.

“People are a little wary about sitting inside in restaurants, but outside is different,” said Bill Babamov, the owner of First Street Restaurant & Bar.

They’re starting to see more travelers, and people only seem to come out when they feel cooped up, even on a holiday.

“People can eat breakfast at home,” Babamov said, “But then they get a little antsy and bored and want to go out.”

At least one restaurant told us they locked their doors Monday night due to the rain totally washing out business during the holiday weekend. But they reminded us it’s not season. This is normally getting into a slow time of year after all.

But the changes are welcome to most restaurant owners, who told us it’s the difference between making a living or not.

“When you’re closed and you’re not sure where your business is going to be and he’s going to come to see you,” Zollinger said. “And people do come to support you and say, ‘Hey, thank you for being open.’ and I say, ‘Thank you for supporting us.’ It’s huge.”

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