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Are local restaurants seeing a post-pandemic rebound?

Posted at 10:48 PM, Jan 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-05 22:48:17-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. - “They’re booming, you know, it’s season and they’re definitely getting the business,” says Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce President, Donna Schuman-Germain.

For local restaurants, things finally seem to be on the upswing after a turbulent two years.

“Restaurants are taking a hit with employees, they’re not taking a hit with business. Our restaurants are busy,” Schuman-Germain explains.

The news matches findings from December's ADP jobs report...which showed the second strongest jobs total of 2021.

Schuman-Germain says snowbirds have contributed to the restaurant recovery.

“We did have a lot of snowbirds. I know in September which is typically one of our slowest months, a lot of our hotels were at a hundred percent capacity which is typically unheard of for September,” she says.

But for Jonesez Barbecue owners Andre and Vickie Jones that recovery is real, and it's here.

“With any business, you grow with it or you get stifled out…so we’re trying to grow with it,” says Andre Jones, co-owner.

Like many, the family-owned Naples based food truck business worked hard to get by during the pandemic.

“We had two other restaurants before this, or three. One was the ideal spot in LaBelle. We moved from a take out to a dine in and lost our drive through, and we didn’t realize how important that was at that time," explains Jones with his wife, Vickie.

But that hard work paid off - and on Wednesday, the restaurant opened it's newest takeout location in Fort Myers.

“It affected a lot of the industry pretty bad, but having food trucks we were able to keep rolling and we kind of benefited from it."

It comes on the heels of a good year thanks to their business' mobility.

“We just thank god, we were blessed.”

And although things are still uncertain with the Omicron variant's impact on businesses, Andre and Vickie are hopeful that what they've built will last.

“Thank god we have this in case of major restrictions on food trucks, we have a brick and mortar where we can do takeout.”