A restaurant in Southwest Florida went from closing its doors to helping the community. Now it’s seeing a positive turn with renovations made to adapt to pandemic life. Other restaurants that have gone through tough times in the region are also making improvements to aid in hopeful comebacks.
Lake Park Diner in Naples is preparing to reopen after many community members thought the restaurant had closed for good, but that is not the case.
“This is the most unprecedented event that has affected the restaurant industry in general,” said Brad Kaemmer, the Lake Park Diner CEO .
Back when times were even more uncertain, the diner opened its heart and kitchen to frontline workers, donating hundreds of meals to NCH healthcare System.
“It was kind of a trifecta, not only the right thing to do,” Kaemmer said.
Packing up meals kept the diner’s employees working.
“I think it really helped everyone in one way shape or form,’ Kaemmer said.
Lake Park Diner is coming out of hard times stronger than when it had to close. A rendering of the diner’s plans show a new air-conditioned section and 90 new seats for outdoor dining. Kaemmer says the business’ concept helped.
“Our facility was open air, and it was very safe. It felt comfortable,” Kaemmer said. “People have flocked to us just for that level of comfort and safety.”
Other restaurants in the area are in the middle of renovations too, and these changes don’t come cheap.
“We’ve added about 40 to 50 thousand dollars’ worth of plexiglass at all our restaurants,” said Skip Quillen, the owner of Chops City Grill in Naples. “For sneeze guards or safety barriers.”
With new safety measures at his five restaurants, Quillen hopes more guests will feel comfortable dining inside.
“Hospital grade air filters, peroxide cleaning program,” Quillen said. “Nobody can predict the future, and everyone wants to see restaurants win.”
Both restaurant leaders know many things remain uncertain but continue to carry on to find way to serve their communities.
“We still are worried,” Kaemmer said.
“The reality is we’re all trying to do the best we can,” Quillen said.