TH E ATLANTI C
July/Aug-ish 2020 | Issue 46
Coastal Culture | Palm Beach & Broward County
THE COMEBACK ISSUE
Photo by Greg Panas Fisherman: Jeramie Vaine 2
Nice Seeing You Again. This issue was created to give our community a snapshot of what our local business sectors were facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time this was written,
things were still changing daily. Surely that’s still the case and it’s possible that at any time restrictions may cause businesses referenced in these articles to reopen, add restrictions, or possibly even temporarily close again.
So, even in light of the challenges we are all facing, we bring you The Comeback
Issue. Delivering an issue with the same page count and copies printed in the middle
of this hasn’t been easy, but because of the support we received from our advertisers and readers, we did it.
As for the future, the magazine isn’t going anywhere. We will adapt to continue
bringing our community a free publication capturing the things you love, just like we
always have. But beyond that, our website will contain more and more good reads to keep you satiated in between issues.
Lastly, we want to thank everyone who has supported us over the last near eight
years. It was difficult making a free local mag work in 2012, as it is today, but the people we have gotten to work with along the way have made it all worth it. - Dustin Wright
Having spent many years in the Bahamas, Joy, Mama Joy, and Hugh “Papa Hughie” Ganter moved to Lighthouse Pont, Florida with a clear vision of the restaurant they wanted; combine the freshest seafood with delicious, mouth-watering, island inspired recipes and serve in a casual, friendly atmosphere. That was 1976. Today Joy and Papa’s ZAGAT rated restaurant and marketplace Papa Hughie’s Seafood World has been dubbed Papa’s Fresh Market and still offers all the same fresh seafood and island inspired ingredients at their fresh market, and caters to all of South Florida via Papa’s Catering Service. And through their shipping division and their own stone crab operation, Best Stone Crabs, they supply fresh fish, shellfish, signature salads, and more to fine restaurants and foodies locally and throughout the nation. Treat yourself to a taste of paradise, delivered fresh overnight from our boats to your table at our online shipping store Beststonecrabs.com In the spring of 2014 The Ganter’s son Troy Ganter and his beautiful wife Cassie opened Papa’s Raw Bar next door to Papa’s Fresh Market. Troy believed there was demand for a local hang out to Eat Drink And Be Local. He envisioned a hole in the wall that made you feel like you are vacationing in the islands, dining at your favorite local joint surrounded by “Good Vibes Only” and the people you love most. Eat Drink And Be Local is our trademark and a lifestyle we live. The EDBL Family works very hard to help our community and create synergy between local businesses so we can all grow together and compliment each other. Find our Trademarks and lifestyle we live at EDBLlife.com Stay tuned as the EDBL Family teams up with La Famiglia, Cousin Lauren Grosso for the opening of our next concept, Papamigos, your local joint to Eat Drink And Be Loco. We are also expanding in the Main Street Plaza, LHP as Papa’s Raw Bar opens the door to the back dining room of old school Seafood World, where you will sneak your way into The Barrel Room, your new Local lounge featuring Elevated Cocktails, a Mother Shucking Oyster & Charcuterie Bar and a buzz stirring up GOOD VIBES ONLY. • Ya Mon – Papasan
We only buy, sell, cater, and ship the freshest, highest quality products. We buy whole fresh fish, which is filleted at our own restaurant and market. We are committed to using only the best ingredients to achieve complete customer satisfaction. If for any reason you are not 100% delighted with our products or service, we will do whatever it takes to make it right. Our TEAM is passionate about our patrons and dedicated to spreadinig Good Vibes Only. “Our house is built on Relationships”. Ya Mon The EDBL Family
Papa’s Fresh Market
CATERING Let Papa & his Family cater your next event WE’LL DO THE WORK
OLD TOWN POMPANO 44 NE 1ST 7 DAYS A WEEK 11:30AM- CLOSE (FOOD TRUCK HOURS)
Dustin Wright | Dustin@theatlanticcurrent.com
Jakob Takos Greg Panas
ASSOCIATE EDITOR Danny Wright | Dan@theatlanticcurrent.com
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EDITOR Darien Davies
PUBLICATION DESIGN Richard Vergez
PHOTOGRAPHY Ben Hicks
WRITERS Darien Davies David Rolland Kayla Ziadie
OUR CREDO We believe coastal South Florida is one of the most desirable locations in the world, and we consider it a privilege to highlight and promote everything and everyone that exemplifies our lifestyle. The core of our model is local business partnerships and supporting our community. The amount of local talent is immense, from professional athletes to world class chefs, artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs. This talent deserves recognition, and we make these people and what they do the cornerstone of our content at The Atlantic Current.
Copyright 2020 by the Atlantic Current LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. The Atlantic Current is a registered trademark of The Atlantic Current LLC.
C O N T E N T S THE COMEBACK ISSUE
COVID’s Culinary 86
The restaurant industry was among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 shutdowns. But with that, came an immense amount of creativity and ingenuity.
Sorry We’re Clothed
Going into your favorite retail shops is all part of the “shopping local” experience. But when that wasn’t an option, local shops we know and love had to adapt, and quickly.
The New Music
Music is meant to be, well, live. And for every local act, it’s how they get paid. Aside from the artists, it’s the driving force for attracting guests to many local bars and restaurants. We spoke with both groups to get their take.
Upsetting the bar
Bars are, at the time this printed, still facing closures. But this industry is a resilient bunch, and some believe the local bar will be flourishing even more coming out of this.
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29 | Mike & Jeff of Heavy Pets @ Crazy Uncle Mike’s — Boca
Guavatron @ Crazy Uncle Mike’s — Boca Krazy Train Trio @ Mathews Brewing — Lake Worth Justin Enco @ DADA — Delray Beach
31 | Unlimited Devotion (Grateful Dead Acoustic Sessions) 4pm @ Guanabanas — Jupiter Tasty Vibrations @ Mathews Brewing — Lake Worth
12 | Joel DaSilva Trio 4pm @ Guanabanas — Jupiter Beer + Yoga Themed Brunch @ Crazy Uncle Mike’s — Boca
14 | AMP Open Mic @ Hullabaloo — WPB 15 | Dueling Pianos @ Crazy Uncle Mike’s — Boca 17 |Uproot Hootenanny 4pm @ Guanabanas — Jupiter Tasty Vibrations @ Crazy Uncle Mike’s — Boca Spider Cherry @ Mathews Brewing — Lake Worth
AUGUST 1 | Roots Shakedown Acoustic 4pm @ Guanabanas — Jupiter Krazy Train Trio* @ Mathews Brewing — Lake Worth
7 | Jeff White 4pm @ Guanabanas — Jupiter Tand @ Mathews Brewing — Lake Worth Matt Brown & Co. @ Dubliner — Boca
18 | The Flyers @ Mathews Brewing — Lake Worth Bryce Allyn 4pm @ Guanabanas — Jupiter The Haunt @ DADA — Delray Beach
8 | Leafy Greens 4pm @ Guanabanas — Jupiter Matt Brown & Co. @ DADA — Delray Beach
21 | AMP Open Mic @ Hullabaloo — WPB
9 | Stoney Boe 4pm @ Guanabanas — Jupiter
22 | Spider Cherry @ Crazy Uncle Mike’s — Boca
14 | Spider Cherry @ Mathews Brewing — Lake Worth
24 | Sons of a Tradesman @ Mathews Brewing — Lake Worth
15 | The Flyers @ Mathews Brewing — Lake Worth Bryce Allyn 4pm @ Guanabanas — Jupiter
25 | Spred-the-Dub @ Mathews Brewing — Lake Worth Dontay (Guavatron and Tand Acoustic) 4pm @ Guanabanas — Jupiter The State Of @ DADA — Delray BeachGirlfriend Material @ Crazy Uncle Mike’s — Boca 26 | Victoria Leigh 4pm @ Guanabanas — Jupiter Jose Almonte Solo @ Mathews Brewing — Lake Worth
28 | Latin Night @ Crazy Uncle Mike’s — Boca
16 | Vern Daysel 4pm @ Guanabanas — Jupiter Jose Almonte Solo @ Mathews Brewing — Lake Worth
21 | Sons of a Tradesman @ Mathews Brewing — Lake Worth 22 | The People Upstairs @ Mathews Brewing — Lake Worth 28 | Beautiful Disaster @ Mathews Brewing — Lake Worth
Please be safe and respectful when going out to events. These venues are working extremely hard to return to business as usual, and your cooperation is needed. In short, don’t be a donkey.
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S t o r i e s i n t h i s i s s u e , q u i t e l i t e r a l l y, w e r e made possible by the following businesses. Please support us by supporting them.
C OV I D â€™S
C U L I N A RY
86 BY DARIEN DAVIES
PAPAâ€™S RAW BAR / PAPAMIGOS
hen it became apparent that the coronavirus was going to hit the States, no one really knew what was going to happen. For small business owners, and specifically local restaurant owners, the focus went immediately to losing business, what to do with employees, how the hell to survive the year with missing peak season, and how long can the doors be shut and the restaurant still stay alive. Even though all restaurant owners were dished out the same awful plate of COVID chaos, the outlook and opportunities that happened in each dining room, bar space and parking lot brought everyone together.
R I D I N G T H E WAV E
To say that COVID couldn’t have happened at a worst time would be the understatement of the century. The governmental restrictions, including social distancing and quarantining, were in full effect in mid-March, which was not only season, but peak season in Palm Beach County. Most restaurant owners were drooling for the crazy amount of business that was about to happen in the next two months that would help them last through the slower summer months. But, instead of a full book of reservations, they had zero people and zero idea of what to do. “We’re virtually running a new business, with one day to open and no money to market and grow it,” said Mike Goodwin, owner of Crazy Uncle Mike’s in Boca Raton, Fla. who was able to keep his core staff but had to temporarily layoff the majority of his front of house and back of house crew. This was the same case with Anthony Barber and Troy’s Barbeque. Not only was Barber seeing great growth at his established Boynton Beach location (with a convenient drive-thru), but business was also picking up at his recently-opened Boca Raton location. “I was looking forward to season in Boca, eagerly looking forward to season,” said Barber, who’s proud of outlasting other restaurants that occupied his same Boca location. “We’ve been there a year now…being there for a year was amazing, to be honest. But missing season is like missing Christmas when it’s in Boca.” So when Barber was forced to close the majority of his operations and lay off 38 of his 60 employees, he got to work, as crazy as that sounds. He began with seizing the opportunity to view his business and management team more clearly, continuing movements to get the most use out of his products and using the full potential of each employee. He was also able to join a huge giving-back movement by partnering with Rodney Mayo and the Hospitality Helping Hands (H3) mission. To date, he and his team have helped to cook and distribute food on a level that surpassed even a busy day in their restaurants.
“Last Friday I had the worst day of my life. I had to lay off 650 employees, which equates to 1,800 family members. So everyone lost their income as of Sunday. I was bombarded with questions of ‘What do we do? Where do we go? Where do we find money?’ I had no answers for them for the first time. I just promised them, I said, I can’t promise you anything because I don’t know what’s going on, but I will promise you that you will never go hungry.” - Rodney Mayo Spoken during West Palm commission meeting on March 23rd, 2020
“I felt bad about having to cut down [labor], so I had the opportunity with H3 to bring staff back to do the charity work. Once we were able to do that, I could bring back everyone and even hire some more folks. That afforded some different opportunities to do some different things,” said Barber.
t h e a t l a n t i c c u r r e n t . c o m 19
W H AT. T H E . F.
If you gave Rodney Mayo the option of cutting off his foot or laying off his employees, he probably would have told you to take both feet. The owner of Sub-Culture Restaurant Group decided that he couldn’t just close his doors and wait to see what happened, so he founded the Hospitality Helping Hands non-profit and opened up one big to-go dining room (and eventually more) where everyone was invited. “Last Friday I had the worst day of my life. I had to lay off 650 employees, which equates to 1,800 family members. So everyone lost their income as of Sunday,” said Rodney Mayo at the West Palm Beach City Commission meeting on March 23, 2020. “I was bombarded with questions of ‘What do we do? Where do we go? Where do we find money?’ I had no answers for them for the first time. I just promised them, I said, I can’t promise you anything because I don’t know what’s going on, but I will promise you that you will never go hungry.”
In its first days, H3 distributed more than 12,000 free meals to hospitality workers, their families, local charities, and others in need at their pop-up food distribution center located at Howley’s Restaurant in West Palm Beach, Fla. To date, they’ve donated more than 250,000 hot meals at seven distribution stations, and helped re-employ 82 hospitality professionals. Other restaurant owners made immediate changes of their own, with the goal of powering through and looking for the light at the end of the virus-laden tunnel. Due to the fact that Gov. DeSantis allowed restaurants to sell packaged beer and liquor, Goodwin and his team were able to sell cocktail packages and growlers of beer in addition to their pick-up and delivery food sales since the beginning of the restrictions. “Our takeout and delivery was .4% of total sales, and right now we’ve gotten it up to over 15% of what we did last year in that category. It’s a great success story,” Goodwin said about his initial business changes.
ANTHONY BARBER AND RODNEY MAYO
JB’S ON THE BEACH
little further south, the team at Papa’s Raw Bar was not only moving quickly, but also thinking strategically. “It’s kind of ironic coming into this year because we’ve always been about revenue and jamming in 15 pounds of shit into a 10 pound bag. But if you take a step back, it doesn’t look great, so we really wanted to focus on getting lean,” said Troy Ganter, founder of Papa’s Raw Bar in Lighthouse Point, Fla. who was about three seconds away from opening up five more raw bars pre-COVID. With this eye-opening and “profound” option of taking a step back, they’re going to instead focus on their two core companies. “It’s all about your DNA, culture, story, and impact on locals and your team. You’re only as strong as your system, whether that’s family or work. We needed to focus on the systems more, get lean and be more streamlined. We got too big and got involved in doing too much because it’s hard saying no to people. We kind of joke about it but this whole pandemic forced change. It put a gun to our head.” To handle the immediate COVID changes that began in March, Ganter and his now 15-person team served hungry guests from 12 to 8 p.m. daily for take-out orders only. Instead of their standard two menus with 700+ ingredients, they instead opted to provide the freshest, leanest and cleanest seafood in town from a small fresh market menu and a small fresh kitchen menu. Ganter also said that he’s focusing on making their Serve Safe efforts “next level,” and that the future of the restaurant industry is going to be different and life-changing for everyone involved.
R E S E RVAT I O N S ABOUT R E ST R I C T I O N S “Things were changing so quickly in the middle of March as the virus was spreading across the country. At first we were told that we needed to reduce our capacity by 50%, which we did immediately both inside and on our patio. It was only a few days later that the Governor of Florida decided to close all restaurants for dine-in service and only allow curbside or delivery,” said CJ Nickoson, general manager of JB’s on the Beach. “At that point we were forced to close our doors. Our concept is not one that translates well to take-out so we didn’t believe it would be a good representation of our usual JB’s experience that our guests have grown accustomed to over the last 18 years. At this point we were all hoping that the closure would only be for 17 days.” But, as we all know, it lasted for much longer. He and his team are making the best of the situation, and remain committed to providing an elevated guest experience, regardless if the guests can’t see their smiling faces underneath their masks. They have adjusted their reservation system to accommodate the new socially-distanced seating arrangement so they’re able to not only maximize their reservations but also streamline the flow of guests as much as possible. To make matters better, they have also gone tremendously above and beyond the call of COVID duty by instituting safety measures so everyone who enters the restaurant feels as safe >>
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as possible. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, taking all guests’ temperature before they enter the building, requiring absolutely everyone to wear a mask (and will even provide masks if someone doesn’t have one), logging contact information for one person in every group that enters the restaurant, sanitizing all tables and chairs after each use as well as common areas of the restaurant, using throw-away menus only, texting guests on the wait list instead of using their pagers, not using any common use condiments, and more. For Nickoson, the measures are well worth it, saying “Our recovery has been slow and steady. Week over week, sales continue to improve. We are very thankful for our guests that continue to support restaurants and the hospitality industry.”
I T ’S A B R E A K , N O T A B R E A KU P
While some restaurants and local eateries were able to keep moving and shaking in some capacity, other’s didn’t have the same opportunity. Pre-pandemic, Pumphouse Coffee Roasters owners and brothers Christian and Alex Le Clainche were on a caffeine high running their go-to local coffee roaster storefronts at Grandview Public Market and recently-opened Cones & Coffee in Jupiter.
“Going from jamming full throttle in terms of really doing well on the retail side to all of a sudden coming to a screeching halt was the biggest reality check for any business.” Christian said. “It went from a week of operating with minimum sales to all of a sudden having to make the call of suspending operations at our two retail locations until we get through the thick of this.” So they used the quarantine time to pivot their focus and ramp up their online store, which was something that was on the back roaster for quite some time. Now, you can easily purchase their beans whole or at a specific grind, cold brew, and a variety of merchandise on their website. “So far our return to operations has been a little rocky to say the least. It’s great to be open and to resume serving our awesome customer base; however, all of the uncertainty surrounding the virus and its potential second wave spike have made the retail climate very eerie,” Christian said. “As a business owner, my biggest concern is the health and safety of our patrons and staff. We have continued to be as proactive as we can with enforcing social distancing measures and safety practices, but ultimately our goal is to provide an outlet for our customers to get delicious coffee that hopefully provides a quick sense of normalcy.” >>
PUMPHOUSE COFFEE ROASTERS
t h e a t l a n t i c c u r r e n t . c o m 23
T H E C O M E B AC K
While we might have all learned that we actually do know how to cook (or defrost), and can actually survive without happy hour jaunts and brunching every weekend, it feels damn good to be able to get back to our must-have eateries. But, just remember that our favorite restaurant workers are still dealing with food shortages, limited coworkers, and managing new safety protocols. Barber asks that when you support his business, or any local small business, just be kind. “Say nice things. Man, we had to let people go. We’re short staffed. It’s difficult to navigate this world,” Barber said. “We’re short on supplies and you’re coming in our restaurant and you’re mad we don’t have this or that. We’re all trying to do the best we can; we, the mom and pops.”
“We feel extremely lucky that we have been able to weather the initial hit of the business shutdown, but the recovery looks like it may take a lot longer to bounce back then initially forecasted,” Christian said. “We are confident that the specialty coffee market will continue to grow in South Florida even during these uncertain times. As such, our goal is to create a broader access to freshly roasted specialty coffee as consumers shift their focus toward making a great cup of coffee at home.” If you are able and feel comfortable, get out there and show your local restaurants and service industry professionals some love. They are, after all, just like every one of us: people who are trying their best to weather a pandemic.
On top of that, just giving the restaurant workers a chance to serve you again by having a meal with them is the best way to show your support. “We really appreciate the people who are venturing out and giving us a chance to serve you,” Nickoson said. “We take that opportunity very seriously and understand that during these times it can be unnerving going out to a restaurant. We are glad you are here and we will do everything in our power to make sure you have a great experience.”
“We’re reinventing ourselves, and the support has been tremendous. We don’t know what every day will face but we have a team of leaders who started working for nothing, but are now making more than they ever made. We’ve also been able to give back and help our first responders,” said Ganter, who, even through all of this, says their business continues to set records and grow. “Now we’re coming with a whole new plan to reopen. Our story is getting better and growing.”
Especially with the current ups and downs of the imposed restrictions and safety mandates, opening back up and getting back into the swing of things isn’t as simple as it might sound. But, that’s where business diversification plays a key role in helping not only the local eateries survive, but also keeping us locals sane in an insane climate.
So while it might be a work in progress, the overall outlook is hopeful. After all, everyone is eager to get back to normal, even if that’s a new normal.
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S O R R Y, W E â€™ R E
C LO T H E D BY KAYLA ZIADIE
NOMAD SURF SHOP
R ETAI L
here’s no doubt COVID-19 had a dastardly impact on the economy, especially on local brick-and-mortar businesses that rely on in-person purchases. When the national emergency was announced March 13, most small business owners throughout South Florida had to act fast to make decisions for both the short- and long-term success of their business. Before heading to Amazon or Fortune 500 companies, call your favorite shop, check out their online store, or mask up and head in-person to see if you can find what you’re searching for. At the end of the day, few things can’t be solved by community support and locals showing up for small businesses impacted by coronavirus. By pairing grit and determination with a loyal community support system, four local businesses we know and love are starting to make a comeback post-COVID. But getting back to a new “normal” hasn’t come without several months worth of patience, diligence and sacrifice.
At Custom Rod & Reel in Lighthouse Point, owner Jordan Smith wasted no time in taking the necessary precautions for his business. The one-stop-shop for locals’ saltwater offshore and inshore fishing needs closed without hesitation. “When COVID began to spread throughout the state and the country, we quickly made the decision to lock our front doors and do curbside pickup, local delivery, and ship orders,” Smith said. “This slowed down sales for us as we are in the process of building our online store…[we] only have a retail location that we were not allowing people in to shop.” To Smith’s surprise, business was busier than expected. He took this as an opportunity to get things in order around the shop, like launching Bait Drop, a local bait delivery service. “We are a business that was around for 43 years before we purchased it in June 2019,” Smith said. “It allowed us to re-merchandise the store and clean up our inventory.”>>
ust one county north, Ryan Heavyside of Nomad Surf Shop was also able to be proactive in the early stages of the shutdown. The family-run business in Boynton Beach has been the local goto for custom surfboards, boardshorts, T-shirts and other apparel since 1968. “Our first approach was restricting walk-in customers for their safety as well as the safety of our staff, and their families,” Heavyside said. “We cut down on browsing and people just walking around killing time.” The staple surf shop usually has a spike in sales during the months of March and April thanks to spring breakers and tourists visiting during peak season. However, COVID-19’s impact coupled with statewide closures for non-essential businesses unfortunately created more hardships than profit.
“When COVID first happened, we told our employees it would be better if they didn’t come in because it would be safer,” Tavola said. “But we couldn’t close our business just yet.” That changed when the government declared the COVID-19 a national emergency in March, and Tavola and Moline then decided they needed to close down and move their store online. But the threat of coronavirus for Mora’s future created another challenge for the sisters. Alongside needing to get creative with business tactics, they also take care of their 85-year-old mother, Mirta, who usually helps out in the store. Protecting her livelihood during the chaos was crucial. “It was scary,” Tavola said. “My sister and I were scared for our mother’s safety because she works with us.”
“If this happened in the summertime it wouldn’t be as big of a hit; you’d take a loss, but it wouldn’t be an 80% loss,” Heavyside said. “It couldn’t have come at a worse time for Florida. It’s really the worst time possible for it to hit here.”
Further north in Delray Beach is fellow chic boutique, Sunday State Style. Owner Shannon Sipperley closed its doors on March 14. Whether shoppers came in to window shop or to pick up a new ‘fit, there was always catching up to do.
Twenty-five minutes south at Mora Surf Boutique in Deerfield Beach, sister-owners Romi Tavola and Claudia Moline held down the fort alone when COVID-19 struck.
“Our store is like, 95% therapy and 5% retail,” Sipperley said. “Everybody comes in because they want to talk to you; we know all the customers...we know everything going on with everyone.”
R ETAI L
ONLINE OR BUST When Custom Rod & Reel turned to curbside pickup, Smith’s initial thought was that business would be slower and he’d be able to accomplish some projects. But the success of offering curbside pickup meant he had to amp up his online store. “Curbside seemed to make every transaction take double the amount of time because we had to take the order, then shop for the customer,” Smith said. “This quickly put our online project [at] full speed ahead and forced us to get our e-commerce site up faster.” After all non-essential businesses were forced to close, Heavyside and his team took time to get creative and find ways to keep business flowing while the doors were closed. “We’re really working on our online presence, over the years it’s been there, but not as strong as it should be,” Heavyside said. “Now we’re focusing on adding our Nomad brand products to the online store and upping our Instagram shopping links on our page. We’ve also been doing video messages and updates to our followers to keep up that interaction.”
“When we closed the business I thought it would be almost dead,” Tavola said. “But the community we have is so helpful. Everyone started to shop online to support us.” Sunday State Style also has an active online store people can order from as well as the option of curbside pickup, but it’s not the main source of business or focus. At the same time, Sipperley didn’t want customers in financially tight situations feeling pressured into spending money at her store. So it went radio silent online while COVID-19 ran its course. “Many people had lost their jobs, so they didn’t need to be bombarded with ‘hey, buy this dress’ when they were trying to figure out how to pay for groceries,” Sipperley said. “So we kind of went dark and laid low to be respectful of everybody’s time.”
Thanks to the growth of their online store, Nomad was able to begin free curbside pickup at the shop for orders made online or over the phone. “Curbside pickup has been great,” Heavyside said. “And there’s been a lot of connecting with customers via text or calls to coordinate sales and pickups.” Over at Mora, even with COVID-19 leaving its future on rocky ground, the boutique’s customers made sure to show up for their favorite shop. More online customers meant that the website needed daily updates more than ever. Tavola and Moline have experienced success on Mora’s website that they never did before being shut down. With the newfound site traffic, they also instated curbside pickup for online orders. It was more than a business opportunity—it was a new way to keep Mora’s culture and spirit alive despite the uncertainty of the world.
CUSTOM ROD & REEL Instead, she started offering free one-on-one personal styling after receiving messages from customers wanting to switch up their “quarantine wardrobe.” So whether they had a driveway BBQ with neighbors or a socially-distanced first date, Sipperley was ready and available for anyone needing fashion advice or wanting to privately shop. “It became a personal shopping service,” Sipperley said. “The world was hurting, and everyone needed to take a break and figure out what they were going to do with themselves.”
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T H E CO M E B AC K Luckily for Custom Rod & Reel, business barely changed besides the month Smith had to close the front doors. Business before COVID closures was on the uptick due to the local tackle industry entering its season. Even with the brick and mortar reopening, he intends to continue growing its online presence. “In the future, we see the importance of the online business and intend to focus and grow that portion,” Smith said. “In [Custom Rod & Reel], we have made a better effort to keep everything clean...[to give] our customers the best experience possible in our store.” On the flip side, the team at Nomad had concerns with bigger companies that they buy from offering discounts on the same products they sell in-store.
customers the tried-and-true, top-of-the-line surfboards, clothing and apparel its reputation was built on. And since reopening for walk-in customers, they have been slammed busy. For Mora, its June 4 reopening also came with new rules. The boutique has implemented several protocols to keep the store as clean and safe as possible while cases rise in Florida, such as mandatory face masks and using hand sanitizer offered at the front. Tavola says these small measures add up to minimize the risk of customers and employees getting sick. “We want [our customers] to understand that we are very concerned, and that’s why we ask them to wear their face masks and to use the hand sanitizer as much as they can,” Tavola said.
“It’s becoming difficult to keep up with larger brands who offer these massive online discounts for the same products of theirs that we sell, so we’re focusing on promoting the Nomad brand instead,” Heavyside said. “The big brands slashing prices has really hurt the small businesses who support them and sell their products in the shops.”
Despite the trials and tribulations of COVID-19, Tavola is grateful for her tight-knit group of employees and her store’s supportive customers.
But even though business has changed, Nomad has found ways to adapt to the new normal. The store has more than 50 years of success under its belt, and it won’t stop during these uncertain times. Nomad plans to continue offering its loyal
M O R A ’ S
M A S K S
The demand for face masks (and toilet paper, of course) skyrocketed when COVID-19 made its South Florida debut. Soon after, Tavola was bombarded with messages from customers saying to make extra masks to sell on Mora’s website, so that’s what they did. “The demand for face masks helped us a lot,” Tavola said. “People would go to the site to buy them, but they would end up buying other items, too. It also helped pass time because there wasn’t much business at the beginning [of COVID-19].”
30 R ETAI L
“We live in a good place, a good community where people really understand,” Tavola said. “When something bad happens, they all come together to help each other and [give] support; you feel it, and it just feels good.”
MORA SURF BOUTIQUE
Similarly, Sunday State Style took the safe route with its reopening in late June. Protecting anyone who enters the store is the main priority. Alongside keeping the store in pristine condition, hand sanitizer is
available at the front and maskless shop-
pers can ask for face masks.
At the end of the day, Sipperley says that if anyone wants to help her business, they should show up for Delray Beach as a whole. “The best way to support me is to support Delray, just support the downtown so everybody can make it back together,” Sipperley said. “It’s all energy; you put good energy out with good purpose and you get it back.”
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MATT BROWN 32
Music to our ears
They say hindsight is 2020, but from this side of the quarantine it seemed in early 2020 South Florida really might have had a golden age for local live music. There were plenty of great musicians, lots of cool venues, and an audience eager to dance to the beat and hum along to the melody.
MUSIC BY DAVID ROLLAND
“We opened in 2019,” said Mike Goodwin, owner and founder of Crazy Uncle Mike’s in Boca Raton, Fla. “We had an extraordinary first year, and were taking off bigger than last year. Our [live music] calendar was packed with some of the best of the best. Our trajectory was great.” Matt Cahur, music booker at Guanabana’s, concurred. “We were having a banner year. Best in 20 years. We had all kinds of great shows lined up for summer,” he said. Musicians were also able to prosper. West Palm Beach-based soul singer Matt Brown joked that he was able to give himself a raise in the early days of 2020. “I was busy, man. I was playing 25 to 30 shows a month. I was about to make the most money I ever made in my life. But then rona flew in and everything shut down,” he said.
This is not live
Like Ernest Hemingway described bankruptcy, the coronavirus shutdown was gradual then sudden. In seemingly one day COVID-19 went from some abstract thing people in Italy had to deal with to the major society game changer of our lifetime. “Our last show in mid-March at Guanabanas was Uproot Hootenanny,” Cahur remembered. “We had about 20 people there. Couple days later we closed the place up like we do for a hurricane. We donated all the leftover food. The restaurant had to let everyone go so they could file for unemployment and we shut down for six weeks.” Matt Brown had 40 gigs lined up that were all canceled. “Regular shows like the weekly at E.R. Bradley’s, which we hadn’t missed in two years, were canceled. A new Saturday night gig at The Bend, which I only did one week of before the shutdown, was off. I even had a music conference up in Virginia that was canceled.” When dealing with a virus that was so dangerous and so contagious, there was fear that live music might be a thing of the past, and that musicians and audiences would not be allowed to be in the same room for the foreseeable future.
t h e a t l a n t i c c u r r e n t . c o m 33
Do you even stream, bro?
Thankfully humanity is a creative and resourceful species. Throughout quarantine, people innovated to replicate the musical intimacy we once took for granted between a performer and an audience, and live streaming really took off in April. Everyone from global celebrities who could pack stadiums to local bands that play your favorite dive bar to bedroom musicians who never before played in public began streaming concerts online.
“I had to invest in a tripod, so I could stay relevant and active by livestreaming,” said local singer/guitarist Sierra Lane. “The shutdown actually inspired me to step back and write music on a more consistent basis. Financially, it wasn’t great, but luckily people were extremely generous with tipping for livestreams, which was so appreciated.” Venues had to reinvent themselves for a more remote era as well. Crazy Uncle Mike’s became a take-out only establishment while staying true to their young musical roots with Coronafest, a live-stream concert of bands and mixtures from different bands that viewers can enjoy from their couch on a flexible schedule of about every few days.
The event was a way to provide a concert experience with fresh and new content that helps to not only keep the music alive but also people entertained.
Photo: Jakob Takos
Guanabanas found it wasn’t economical for them to stay in operations as only a to-go spot so they took the time to make renovations with their stage for when they reopened. Cahur said he was grateful because it gave him the most time he ever had with his family. “In the music industry we get a lot of late nights. It was kind of nice not to be up until three in the morning all the time,” he said.
Mics on, masks on
In mid-May, Florida ent ered Phase One of the ir reopening, allowing restaurants to seat customers again in a limited capacity. also allowed them to brin It g back live music. Gu anabanas began hos hour shows every Frid ting happy ay, Saturday and Sun day from 4 to 7 p.m. “W anything that would brin e didn’t want to do g massive crowds. We wanted to get our cor been playing with us e musicians who have for years back workin g. So we have some aco where people have ma ustic shows in the ope n air sks and there’s some space between seats,” Cahur said. “Most of the people wh o are coming to shows today are adventurous and enjoy,” Goodwin type of folks. They wa said of the audiences nt to come at Crazy Uncle Mike’s safety, regulations and . “The challenge has people’s nature. Socia been balancing l distancing isn’t the nat ure of people who are so making it comfortabl out at shows, e for all is our desire and the challenge.” The performers are gra teful to be doing the job they love, but sometim Matt Brown’s played 16 es are a bit wary of wh shows since venues reo at they see. pened in May. “On sta soon as I get off I put ge I don’t have the ma it on. Some people tak sk, but e it seriously at the sho ws, but some don’t car e or don’t think the virus is real,” he said. Sierra Lane also feels a bit conflicted. “It’s bee n great getting to play even with less of a cro with my band again, wd. With every gig tha t I’m offered, I struggl right thing’ and worry e with doing ‘the that playing live isn’t bei ng socially responsib stick to open-aired ven le. But I ues and businesses tha t promote social distan ing, as opposed to pla cces that don’t follow gui delines not just for public safety, but for our safety as artists as well,” she said.
In these tumultuous times, every day brings a different headline. Some make us hopeful that we can go back to enjoying live music the way we used to, while others make you think things will never be the same. “It will be challenging for all of us. Getting enough people in a venue to help pay for the band will be difficult with tight restrictions and reduced and reduced occupancy,” Goodwin said. “I’m guessing the way we do things will be in flux for a while. We need to be flexible and be willing to adjust quickly when the government mandates new restrictions. It is our belief that these changes will be happening over and over for some time to come.” Cahur says he’s trying to book national acts for Guanabanas, but we might have to be patient until 2021 when acts and venues can commit with some certainty. For now, he says tip and buy merch from your favorite acts and support the venues, even if laws and public safety mandate they can’t yet provide you with music. “Even if your favorite live music venue isn’t playing music yet, go have a burger or beer to help support them. Get out there, be safe about it, but start spending. The music will come back, but we got to do it when the time is right,” he said.
36 M U S I C
UPST H EEB A RT T T
here’s no shortage of bars
and breweries in South Florida. Both
The owners of Palm Beach County’s booziest spots deep dive into how they’ve stayed afloat amid the madness BY KAYLA ZIADIE
locals and SoFlo transplants can quench their thirst with craft beers and artisanal cocktails at the turn of every downtown corner. But like most businesses, bars and breweries took a financial blow when the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation. Whether it was finding ways to offer to-go alcohol or keep their staff on board, local taverns and pubs had no choice but to think outside of the keg.
38 D R I N K
ING TAPPED OUT
Fran Andrewlevich owns Palm Beach County sister breweries Tequesta Brewing Company, Twisted Trunk and Steam Horse Brewing Co. As one can imagine, triple the business closures meant triple the pressure. Andrewlevich kept his salaried employees on and split the shifts between other staff. His No. 1 priority was retaining his workers, as well as making sure they knew he had their backs. So if someone’s rent got tough, they wouldn’t have to worry as long as he could help. “We worked really hard to get to where our staff was at all three places, so figuring out how to maintain them was important, and then if they had to take another job elsewhere...I totally understand,” Andrewlevich said. “And my salaried guys got paid full salary the whole time.” In South County, Sweetwater features the largest whiskey and spirit selection in the Southeastern U.S. and, since 2011, has made its mark on Palm Beach County as the first true craft cocktail-driven bar. Its consistent flow of both drinks and business had bartender and co-owner Sean Iglehart working 80-hour weeks before the pandemic. “It was definitely a drastic halt for me personally,” Iglehart said. “We needed to pivot quickly, but we’ve always been extremely flexible at Sweetwater.” >> t h e a t l a n t i c c u r r e n t . c o m 39
His first plan of action post-shutdown was creating a GoFundMe to help his staff. His second was figuring out what to do with the thousands of dollars worth of alcohol and food bought in anticipation for peak season in March. Always the best month for business, March signifies St. Patrick’s Day soirées and spring breakers galore, but shutdowns made it physically impossible. “We ordered accordingly, and we had an excess of product,” Iglehart said. “Then I think it became real when the Delray St. Patty’s Day parade got canceled. We were sitting on a ton of product... just gearing up for this parade.” Pre-COVID, beer fiends could witness brews in action at Mathews Brewing Company in Lake Worth. Since its 2016 debut, Mathews has notoriously been a “playground for the beer lover” with its extensive range of quality beer and wine, open brewing facility, outdoor beer garden, live music stage and air-conditioned taproom. But having to shut down meant losing sales in unprecedented ways during March’s peak season, including a loss of tips for the taproom staff.
40 D R I N K
“Basically, we lost money in taproom sales and distribution sales that can never really be made back up,” says owner David Mathews. “Also, we get a lot of new customers that visit the brewery during the peak season, so we lost out on new customers visiting.” Twenty minutes south of Mathews Brewing is South Florida’s first self-serve modern craft beer and wine bar, Hopportunities, where customers are encouraged to “find your hoppy place.” In exchange for IDs and credit cards, patrons receive a wristband to scan at 55 different taps that pour both locally and nationally sourced brewskis. Owner John Macatangay had been in business just shy of four months when COVID-19 forced him to close up shop in midMarch. After a successful soft opening in November, things slowed down around the holidays but picked up for its grand opening in February. “We shut down our bar two days prior to when the governor required it of all bars, just because we weren’t sure what was going on and cautioned on the side of safety,” Macatangay said. “[But] business was starting to boom.”
Packaged to-go drinks kicked off quarantine, then Andrewlevich implemented delivery for all three businesses in April. But if he’s taken any lessons from the shutdowns, it’s that pubs are here to stay.
To streamline business, Mathews Brewing marketed to-go sales more than it ever did before. Before Phase One, getting creative was crucial with the closed taproom.
“One of the great things was how generous our [customers] were,” Andrewlevich said. “Many bartenders on a four-hour shift were making twice what they would make on a ten-hour shift. If anything came out of this, it really symbolized that the local pub is alive and well.”
Alongside to-go brews straight out of the taproom and special bottle releases, customers could pre-order beers, then pick them up when available. Weekly three-for-$30 crowler specials were also a consistently successful venture.
Creating an online menu for Sweetwater’s to-go drinks didn’t take long for Iglehart to implement, thanks to his degree in design. Within a couple of days, he created the pick-up menu on a Square site, created every new to-go label and found bottles for packaging. And even though they won’t taste exactly like a fresh pour, Iglehart and his team strive to give customers the same experience with its pre-packaged cocktails and flights.
“We got a lot of support from locals and regular customers,” Mathews said. “We also brewed beers that take longer to condition, such as Lagers and Pilsners; this helped us stay busy in the brewery area [and] also helped keep equipment in operation.”
“I’ll give recipes on anything that I create, but I always tell people it’s like a massage,” Iglehart said. “It always tastes better when somebody else makes it, when somebody else does it.” On the plus side, alcohol won’t go bad, so the excess bought from St. Patty’s planning meant Iglehart could sell it online. Food, however, was another story. “Fortunately, we’ve had the ability to use a lot of that product throughout the carryout/take-out program,” Iglehart said. “As far as food goes, the first thing we did was cook a lot of our food that we couldn’t preserve. We just donated that to staff, friends and family, and other workers in the industry.”
The moment the shutdown transpired, Macatangay immediately bought a canning machine to can all of the keg beers and draft wines. He also transformed one of the beer lines into a CO2 line to keep every can as fresh as possible. If he was going to offer to-go brews as a new business, he was going to do it the right way. Soon after, he started partnering with semi-local breweries in the same boat to show support—ones that were also struggling to find their market. He avoided breweries in Palm Beach County as to not pull business from them. “We hosted virtual beer schools,” he said. “We’d buy four kegs from a brewery to help them out, can those beers, do a Zoom meeting with the brewery, then we’d do a virtual tasting.” >>
t h e a t l a n t i c c u r r e n t . c o m 41
MORE DRINKY, Shutdowns happening smack in the middle of peak season was brutal, Andrewlevich says. Had it occurred during slower months, like late summer, it would’ve been half the problem it was. “If this happened in August, it would have been just fine,” he said. “Because in August you’re doing half the business you’re doing in March. My costs don’t really change that much, so if sales are 40% less—which it happens every year—you know, it is what it is. So if this happened in August, I won’t say it wouldn’t be a big deal, but it would be half the problem that it was.” Andrewlevich knows a thing (or three) about keeping business afloat during trying times. For him, it’s all about honing in on what matters most. “Pick your focus, which for ours was keeping our staff,” Andrewlevich said. “It’s one big family between all three breweries. And with that, support your local people. I made sure to be in every place and fist bump every person that’s supporting us. Because I knew coming out of this it was going to be uber local.” Although the concept of normalcy is redefined weekly, locals have poured into Sweetwater since its Phase One reopening. Even with a limited menu, loyal patrons have assimilated the trendy bar into their new quarantine routines. “Right now, we’re very close to normalization to our revenue from last year,” Iglehart said. “And I don’t know if it’s because a lot of places are closed down, or if it’s just people wanting to get out since they’ve been quarantined for months.” As for new health regulations with dining establishments, Iglehart believes there’s going to be stricter measures taken in the future. “I think the health departments are really going to come down on restaurants with new CDC regulations,” he said. “They’re pretty strict now, so I’m really curious as to what that landscape looks like in the future.” It may come as no surprise, especially as cases continue to rise in South Florida. Despite this, prior to masks being required, some customers even ask his staff to take their masks off since it’s hard to hear what they’re saying.
MORE THINKY “I see a lot of cases of recklessness, like abandonment, of the regulations...people don’t really care,” Iglehart said. “We’re just trying to do everything we can to protect ourselves.” Down the road at Mathews Brewing, the taproom was wildly popular and kickin’ until life came to a screeching halt. So for the future, Mathews doesn’t feel the pandemic has created a need for a refreshed business approach, aside from abiding by new health regulations. “We don’t see this as an opportunity in our taproom because we were very busy before the COVID-19 crisis, but we do see a lot more local support from local restaurants to be serving more local craft beer and not national beer brands that are not brewed locally here in South Florida,” Mathews said. “Our adjustments are basically following the state of Florida and Palm Beach County guidelines for being open [during the pandemic]. Each time a new order is issued, we make the required adjustment to be in compliance.” Despite facing pressure being a new business owner, giving up hope wasn’t an option for Macatangay, even with closures. “I just really wanted to keep our business alive,” Macatangay said. “I don’t know if ‘alive’ is the right word, but keep us engaged with the [local beer community] and try and find ways for us to continue to generate revenue, to keep staff on board as much as possible.” And despite Hopportunities being so new to the area, Macatangay refuses to let the business suffer from the consequences and uncertainty of quarantine. But staying positive can be challenging while witnessing fellow new businesses close permanently, with no end to COVID-19 in sight. “There are a lot of [new bars] that are already shutting their doors,” Macatangay said. “For us, it’s just really [about] staying alive...I’m not that weak on our outlook, but it’d be a lot easier if someone gave us an idea of when we’d be able to open.” >>
t h e a t l a n t i c c u r r e n t . c o m 43
THE COMEBACK For Andrewlevich, customers awaiting full reopenings is synonymous with watching a movie trailer. With limited hours, various restrictions, and necessary masks, people have been given a taste of reality again. So the moment restrictions cease to exist months down the road, “people are going to go nuts.” “I think people are going to be jonesing to come out,” Andrewlevich said. “They’re going to take full advantage of it, and I think it’s going to be great. It’s kind of a tease.” For the time being, he’s ultra focused on continuing to bring bangin’ brews to North County with his three businesses. And with such supportive customers, he’s not concerned about creating extensions in other cities whenever the new normal rolls around. “I’m pretty enthusiastic about [the future] based on what I’ve seen,” Andrewlevich says. “Just the way that [customers] came back and the way they supported us; it’s going to go even more and more local... my focus isn’t getting beer in Miami or in Fort Lauderdale, my focus is North County — and that’s always what my focus has been. But it’s ultra focused now.” Down at Sweetwater, the bar’s longstanding presence meant it had a leg up thanks to its supportive customers and self-marketing strategies in the community. However, other businesses that opened more recently may not have had the same luck, so Iglehart says it’s important to shop local and support nearby businesses. “Buy [local businesses’] hats, shirts, cocktails to-go, gift certificates,” Iglehart said. “At least try to go out at least twice a week; be safe and wear your mask. Support your favorite local spot, [and] maybe cook to save money for the other days.” At the moment, Mathews Brewing has 50% capacity in its taproom, with hourly bathroom cleanings and hand sanitizing stations. But its 5,000-square-foot outside beer garden is customers’ preferred sipping station. Although it doesn’t have a capacity limit, social distancing guidelines are mandatory.
“The outside beer garden area is where most of our business is now,” Mathews said. “We are doing a lot more outside order taking by our taproom staff and trying to limit customers having to come inside to the taproom to order a drink.” As for moving forward, Mathews says the best way to do so is for everyone to continue supporting local businesses. “People can support Mathews Brewing by either visiting the brewery, ordering to-go beer or going to restaurants that carry our brand and ordering our beer,” Mathews said. “We also have merchandise for sale along with gift cards.” Being one of Palm Beach County’s newest establishments meant there was less time for Hopportunities to have established a solid customer base that would offer support during the shutdown. “The support was there, it was amazing,” Macatangay says. “But we’ve noticed that post-Phase One... we’ve noticed a significant decline. The first week after Phase One, our COVID sales were down 80%. They’ve slowly creeped back up, but nowhere near what we were doing during quarantine, and obviously when we were open.” When it comes to the future, Macatangay is ready to reopen when he gets the green light. SOPs are in place, seating capacity has been cut in half, hand sanitizing stations have been installed, gloves are at the ready, and touchless options on the tap wall mean pouring beer with zero physical contact with any taps. “I feel comfortable enough that we can operate safely at a lower capacity,” Macatangay said. “Those operations with our to-go sales could kind of bring us back to where we need to be. I feel like I’ve mapped everything out for the COVID future...we’re just waiting for our shot.”
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