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Naples Restaurants Reopen, Slightly

Julie Glenn
Waiter wearing a mask doing table service on Fifth Avenue

On Monday, restaurants in Florida were allowed to welcome diners back into their restaurants at 25 percent occupancy indoors, and outdoors at widely spaced seating, to ensure social distancing.

Many tables were occupied late in the afternoon along Naples's dining thoroughfares, Fifth Avenue and Third Street South.It's the first day restaurants have been allowed to give guests more than carry out and curbside pick up since mid- March, and it’s the first, small step towards normalcy after the Coronavirus shut-down to stop the spread of the disease. 


“We’ve seen a 75% drop in hotel revenues, and the restaurant industry has been completely shut down.  It’s certainly unprecedented,” said Dr. Michael Collins, Associate Professor in the FGCU School of Resort & Hospitality Management. 


“The industry is only going to rebound as quickly as people are willing to get out of their home. So If you feel that you can get out of your home safely, If you feel you’re not at risk- go out and order dinner from your favorite restaurant,” he said. 


At Founder’s Market and Bistro, the shutdown came just weeks after a successful opening. “Our grand opening was February 21st,” said Executive Chef and co-owner Don Splain. He was celebrating his restaurants’ selection to be featured in an article in the national magazine Bon Appetit.

Then, just a few weeks later, all restaurants in Florida were shut down by Executive Order. 

“I literally had three people who came in, moved from out of state to work here, They were supposed to start March 19th,” Splain said. The shutdown startedMarch 20th.

So, the Founder’s Bistro had to wait for a limited opening this week, a month and a half later. Splain said he plans to pick up right where they left off, building on the successful, yet stuttering start. 

“Within the three weeks that we were open, the feedback we were getting was so positive,”

Splain said. Despite the setback, he still plans to open a market next door where people can take the products featured at the restaurant home with them, to the beach,or to their next dinner party.



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