It’s been a trying month for small businesses and their employees. Since the coronavirus pandemic began spreading across the United States in early March, restaurants and bars have been forced to transition to takeout models, and many other “non-essential” businesses (including med spas, retail shops and salons) have closed their doors.
But even in the face of the current crisis, Tampa’s culture of “community over competition” has held strong. Many local businesses, facing challenges of their own, have stepped up and lent a hand to the community and even other business owners. On the following pages, hear how Tampa business owners are sharing some hope during this age of uncertainty.
Where applicable, we’ve also included information about how to help. Please note that this is a rapidly evolving situation and the details are correct as of our print deadline. Be sure to check with individual businesses for the most up-to-date information.
Assist where you’re able, give what you can, and we’ll get through this together. Tampa always does. Start reading below.
Dr. John Redd
To comply with government orders, dental offices had to close to non-emergency procedures. Dr. John Redd wanted to be there for others still serving the community, so he began offering free treatment to service industry workers dealing with dental issues. Reach out to Dr. Redd’s office for specific details.
Marcadis Watt Plastic Surgery
With all elective surgeries canceled, Dr. Abraham Marcadis, Dr. Tony Watt and their team found new ways to help their community. They gave away $1,000 worth of VISA gift cards to people in need on social media, and Dr. Watt stepped in to help a client’s 2-year-old child who needed stitches — thus keeping them out of the emergency room and freeing up resources to fight COVID-19.
The Tampa company, which specializes in custom-made wooden furniture, is using their 3-D printers to create biodegradable plastic mask bodies and filter frames that can be sanitized and reused for health care providers treating COVID-19 patients. “My mom works at a hospital in South Florida and was exposed to the virus early on. Two of the first four deaths in Florida were at her hospital and were patients of hers,” says Built founder Andrew Watson. “Her age and compromised lungs put her in a very scary bracket, which really hit home for me. We have the ability and, for now, the means [to help out]. It’s our social responsibility to help protect our front-line health professionals while they fight this virus.”
Maney | Gordon
In late March, the law firm sent Eddie & Sam’s pizzas to the entire staff of Memorial Hospital’s emergency department. The beloved downtown eatery helped return the favor by discounting their normal delivery fee. “We want to take care of our front-line medical providers,” says attorney Jack Gordon.
Davidoff of Geneva
To benefit local bartenders who are out of work, Davidoff of Geneva and a number of other Tampa establishments (including On Swann, Bern’s and Whiskey Cake) have partnered with the Tampa Bay Whiskey Society on a whiskey raffle.
Restaurateur Dave Burton
When health concerns forced him to close his restaurants Flock & Stock and Gen X Tavern, Burton donated his remaining Flock & Stock food inventory to the emergency room and ICU staff of Tampa General Hospital. Then, Burton opened the Gen X Tavern kitchen to pastry chef Julie Curry and her team at Bake’n Babes (who normally operate out of The Hall on Franklin, which has also temporarily closed) to continue fulfilling delivery orders. Bake’n Babes paid it forward by preparing free pasta meals for hospitality workers. “I was taught by my parents when you are in a position to help others, it is your responsibility to be a man for others,” says Burton, who also owns the still-open Tampa Pizza Company.
Restaurants Feeding Their Employees
The food and beverage industry has been one of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy during this crisis. While many local restaurants have been forced to lay off employees, a number of them have been doing what they can to support their team members. In late March, the Ciccio Restaurant Group began distributing free meal packages to its employees in need, along with offering 50% off at its restaurants to fellow hospitality workers. “At the heart of hospitality is being generous, being giving, and extending a helping hand,” CRG said in a statement. The chefs and management of On Swann and Oak & Ola have also been cooking family meals for their team members multiple times a week, and the Columbia Restaurant Group has offered their furloughed staff members prepared meals in addition to continuing to pay their health benefits. Visit the social media pages of each of these restaurants to learn how to help their efforts.
With so many families stuck at home, Doublemint Sitting has had to pivot some of their services. To help clients with immune-compromised family members, Doublemint sitters have offered to grocery shop and run other errands, while other sitters have become de facto teachers for kids who now go to school online. “Our team has stayed calm and done a fantastic job making sure the children have a routine in place every day,” says Doublemint Sitting co-owner Synthia Fairman.
Eat Right Meal Plans
The locally owned fresh meal prep company has delivered more than 1,000 meals to nurses, doctors and health care workers at Tampa hospitals since late March. “In this critical time we want to continue to assist in giving back as much as we can, and the impact we are making on a lot of lives is the core of our company culture,” says executive chef and co-founder Anthony Santos. “It only feels right to help provide some relief to our hospital staff and first responders.”
Together for Tampa
Nearly a dozen restaurants around South Tampa, downtown and Ybor City (including Bulla Gastrobar, seen at left) have banded together to provide meals to Tampa General Hospital’s staff with the support of community donations. Visit Together for Tampa’s Facebook page to see which restaurant is cooking each day (along with the cutoff time for each day’s orders), and give them a call to donate as many $10 meals as you’d like. Some restaurants, including Datz and Zydeco Brew Werks, are matching each donation and providing one additional meal for each that is purchased.
For Forks Sake
Despite laying off nearly all of its employees in mid-March, the Proper House Group (the restaurant group behind Rooster & the Till, Nebraska Mini Mart and Gallito) is finding ways to give back. Together with some of their customers, the group has created the For Forks Sake initiative, which provides free meals for medical workers. Medical professionals can call into Rooster & the Till for their free meal, and anyone can contribute to the restaurant’s funds benefiting both medical and hospitality employees when placing their takeout order. Rooster & the Till is also adding 15% to any donation over $100.
6500 N. Florida Ave. | (813) 374-8940
The St. Petersburg-based coffee company is keeping Tampa’s health professionals fueled. Doctors, nurses, healthcare providers and first responders can show their ID at any Kahwa Coffee shop (to-go or drive through) and receive any coffee drink for free.
kahwacoffee.com for your closest location