Restaurants in South Walton see benefits from Phase 3 reopening


After months of operating well under capacity, restaurants and bars are allowed to fully reopen in Florida.

For businesses in South Walton, the pandemic hit hard.

“At 50 percent, you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing when you’re at 100 percent, and of course it happened right before spring break and everything went down from there and it just hurt. It hurt a lot of us in this business,” said Ken Duenas, executive chef at Pescado.

Now that they can fully reopen, those in the restaurant business said they are hoping to make up at least some of their losses, even outside the peak tourism months.

“I think we’re going to actually not go down that much because a lot of counties and states are still doing online schools, so a lot of people are taking their kids, still going on vacation, still coming down here and having some school, and still taking a vacation at the same time,” said Duenas.

Visit South Walton officials said because there’s more flexibility in how people work and go to school; they are taking more frequent, and longer, vacations.

“A lot of people are on more flexible schedules now than they would otherwise be with schools, so we are getting people who are coming to town at times of year that they might not normally be here,” said David Demarest of Visit South Walton.

Some restaurants are still practicing social distancing.

“As a company we’ve decided to keep our tables socially distant, to be sensitive to people in the area and our guests who are still very concerned about the pandemic,” said Andrew Preble, general manager at La Crema.

Visit South Walton is also encouraging all visitors to take safety precautions like wearing a mask and social distancing.

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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