Local bar owner feeling forgotten in statewide reopenings

Local bars feeling the impact of COVID-19
Posted at 12:12 AM, May 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-10 00:12:47-04

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — It’s been more than seven weeks since Southwest Florida bars and nightclubs were forced to close their doors.

Some owners say they are feeling forgotten in the governor's plans to reopen the state.

“I don’t see why I can go to dinner and sit at a restaurant at 25% capacity that still has 75 people in it, but not have 10 people in my establishment, ” said Cassandra Amato.

Cassandra Amato is the owner of CJ’s Tavern and Liquor store in Punta Gorda.

Her bar was forced to shut down on what is usually their busiest day of the year March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day.

“I got triple the beer delivered that day expecting us to have a huge blowout, so i lost triple the money, ” said Amato.

What originally started as a 30-day shutdown to slow the spread of coronavirus, has now turned into 7 weeks and counting.

“It is going to take me a full year to recover, ” said Cassandra Amato.

As restaurants and other establishments begin to reopen, Amato fears she may lose her employees.

She has been forced to innovate, serving liquor-to-go to loyal customers.

“They know they are paying more for it but they are trying to support me, ” said Cassandra Amato.

Cassandra says she has reached out to the governor on numerous occasions, and has yet to receive a response

The business is too small to qualify for relief loans.

“All the way from the SBA business loan all the way to unemployment we’ve received absolutely nothing, ” said Amato.

Even though some things slated to open during phase two are already reopening, bars, pubs, and nightclubs still have to wait until the completion of phase one and a consistent drop in cases of COVID-19.