TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Experts say more than 41 percent of minority-owned businesses have closed never to reopen in the United States since the pandemic.
But that trend is going in the opposite direction in the Big Bend.
"I've been trying to get here for a couple of years and then the spot finally opened up," said Gabriel Lovett.
Lovett is the owner and founder of Lovett's Burgers Chicken and Fries, now sitting in Governors Square Mall's food court.
It's grand opening one of three minority businesses opening doors on Saturday.
Lovett says the pandemic gave him the chance to restructure his business model.
Now, he'll become the first black-owned business in Governors Square and finally get a place of his own.
"I was able to get the finances I needed to open up here in the mall," Lovett said.
President and CEO of the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce Antonio Jefferson said minority businesses have been on the rise in the Capital City and surrounding counties.
"We have seen about 20 new businesses that have opened in our community," Jefferson said.
That number could be greater with many businesses not affiliated with chambers like his.
Jefferson says they aren't just seeing new businesses.
"The reopening of businesses and expansion and relocation businesses. They got an opportunity to reinvent themselves," said Jefferson.
Local government response to the pandemic has also helped establishments stay afloat.
For new places like Lovett's, shopping locally is key for success.
"Being the first owned black business, that means a lot to me. It shows the youth that's under me that there is opportunity the legal way," Lovett said.
Hoping his business can set an example for others.