Server Alecia Hoernermann at Enrico's Pizza in Tavernier has noticed a decrease in in-person dining and a huge uptick in “to go” and for-delivery orders. Many restaurants are shifting to offering only pickup and delivery. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

As the world stutters and slows down amid coronavirus concerns, people are facing restaurant closures, potential curfews and, at worst, country-wide lockdowns. Still, within the pandemonium, some local businesses are finding ways to keep their lives going in this new reality.

“I think we’ll see some creativity from local businesses as things progress,” said Daniel Samess, CEO of the Marathon Chamber of Commerce. “Local businesses can adapt a lot more quickly than corporate because owners can make decisions on the fly instead of asking 18 managers. I think that’s something we’ll see and encourage.”

One of the work-arounds Samess has witnessed in this last week and hopes to see more of is restaurant owners moving servers or shift workers into delivery capacities, as restaurants limit or close their dining rooms but keep their “to go” and delivery services available. Samess notes, “This keeps workers busy, paid and with jobs.”

That’s precisely what’s happening at Enrico’s Pizza in Tavernier. Server Alecia Hoernemann said that while the restaurant remains open, the situation changes day to day. Hoernemann has noticed a huge uptick in orders “to go” and for delivery.

“Last night, ‘to gos’ were insane. For the past week, really,” she said.

The downturn in in-person service hasn’t affected the server, yet. “The kitchen is getting kicked really hard; there’s lots of pickup orders,” she said. “Luckily, we (servers) aren’t so busy so we can help bag.”

The History of Diving Museum in Islamorada has taken a high-tech approach to self-quarantining. For the first time, it will be hosting its monthly Immerse Yourself! Lecture series as a Facebook Live event.

“Our first priority is the safety and well-being of our community,” executive director Lisa Mongelia said. “Second is to keep everyone engaged in a different capacity. With the president’s new initiative, we thought it was more prudent to livestream the event.”

The livestream, which is about Lake Erie, has generated excitement for the museum’s members in Ohio and Michigan, said Mongelia. “They’re so glad we’re livestreaming so now they can participate.”

Samess emphasized again to keep everything local. He said, “Shopping local versus online supports our locals who volunteer at our events, employ other locals and contribute to our community. By supporting them, we allow them to continue to support our community in the future. Everyone, spend dollars locally to help your neighbors.”

“In this crazy time, absolutely, everyone has to adapt and change,” Mongelia added. “If you’re not, you’re stagnant and you’re not helping your community. We all can do our part.”

As a last note, Mongelia plugs, “Like us on Facebook and be part of the virtual evening.”



How to support local businesses through the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Local businesses 
    • Shop local! Instead of going online, try to pick up what you need from our local stores. We need these stores to survive this crisis and be there when it’s over.
    • Don’t hoard supplies. Workers often don’t get to supply their own families until their shifts are finished, when everything is gone from shelves.
  • Restaurants
    • Buy gift cards to use later. That way, low-margin businesses have money now to get past this crisis.
    • Tip well and thank workers in restaurants and for delivery. They are continuing to provide us with services during a crisis.
    • Order “to go” or delivery. Many restaurants that are encouraging patrons to stay home will still make meals to eat at home, and servers can help as baggers and delivery people to still have work.
  • Gyms/yoga studios: 
    • Don’t cancel or suspend your monthly memberships. They depend on this revenue to stay afloat.
    • Ask if gyms/yoga studios will host any virtual classes online that you can participate in rather than coming in.
  • Events
    • If your favorite institutions will host events online instead of in-person, participate! Or ask them to shift events to online so we can all still support the community even while apart.

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