CAPE CORAL, Fla — For at least the time being, the late nights of live music, the full dance floors, and the long dinners are gone at the Cape Cabaret.
"You know that expression, 'you're handed lemons and you make lemonade?' That's really the story," owner, Joel Notes, says.
There's a refreshing sweetness to the way this story ends up, as well. Like a lot of places, Cape Cabaret was forced into a sudden, dire situation about four weeks ago. What is a place that sells food and entertainment supposed to do with no customers walking in the door?
This is part of our series of stories called "We're Open Southwest Florida." Fox 4 is committed to telling stories about locally owned businesses and non-profits that are innovating and adjusting, so they can stay open and serve the community.
"Just watching everything around, watching the employees going through this struggle," executive chef, Ryan Cook, says. "My wife is in the dental field and she's already out of work through May. So I wanted to do something to get as many people back working and support the community."
So Cook pitched an idea to Notes. Turn the business into a grocery store.
"We have access to all the products that people are looking for," Notes says. "Toilet paper, paper towels, gloves. All the things to protect themselves, as well as all the produce and meats and cheeses that people would need to survive on."
So the restaurant evolved. They began updating their Facebook page every day with a list of what they were selling.
The success of that led to them making meals for curbside pick-up. And then a new lunch menu.
And they kept evolving. Next, they began a 'Heat and Eat' meal service. For every meal they sell, they'll donate one to local first responders.
"Taking care of people who are taking care of all of us," Cook says.
As quickly as things went downhill for Cape Cabaret, the restaurant was able to adjust.
"We're back up to just about the full staff is back to working and working a full week," Cook says. "Which at the end of the day, it makes us feel great about it. Not just that the doors are open but that everybody is working. And keeping a little sanity."
They plan to keep evolving too. They're looking at adding a delivery service next.
"This is something we've been blessed with and we're going to use this for everybody's [betterment]," Notes says. "Failure is just not an option."