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Restaurants bouncing back one year after closures

Posted at 12:45 AM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 00:46:16-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Edgar Gamez, owner of Mexican restaurant Maria Maria, was forced to close his dining room, like hundreds of other Leon County restaurants after Governor Desantis issued an executive order in March of 2020 that closed dining rooms across the state in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Maria Maria, which had only been open for about 9 months at the time, lost about 60% of their business. Now a year later, Gamez says the business is now at a place where they can now keep up with expenses...

"We just want to persevere and make it through hopefully," said Gamez.

Before the pandemic, Ms. Dee's Kitchen in Frenchtown would serve 300 people a day, something that turned into just half of that once dining was stopped. While times have been tough, she used her faith to get her through

"I've put my trust in the lord, and he covered Ms. Dee's Kitchen, a long with my staff," said owner Deborah Holton.

To help businesses in Leon County through the pandemic, The Big Bend Minority Chamber is one of the organizations stepping up. Through a partnership with Walmart, the chamber gave out over $60,000 in grants to 52 businesses in the Big Bend.

"Where we're at today, I think the pendulum is beginning to swing backwards towards being back to a normal economic position," said chamber president Antonio Jefferson.

The chamber, comfortable where Tallahassee businesses are right now, but saying there's still a lot of work to be done.

"We've got to stay laser focused on being able to create conditions in which businesses in return," said Jefferson.

Businesses not out of the woods yet, but as of right now, heading towards the end of the pandemic

"At the beginning we were all lost as to how long or how deep the impacts would be, but businesses that have survived. I think that has made us better businesses," said Jefferson.

The Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce is also partnering with Duke Energy of Florida to provide Business Continuity training in Jefferson and Wakulla counties, helping businesses stay open during times of crisis.