WINTER PARK, Fla. – It will be a while before things get back to any kind of normal for the businesses that line Park Avenue in Winter Park, and to recoup all the money that they’ve lost during Florida’s 30 days safer-at-home order.
While some businesses in the area will be allowed to reopen on Monday, others will have to wait.
“I am so glad we are one of the tier ones,” said Paige Blackwelder, co-owner of Tuni clothing store in Winter Park. “I am so excited to open, so excited to see our customers - see the people that are coming back. And see the energy on the avenue again.”
Blackwelder said she and her entire staff are going through their inventory and getting prepared to allow guests back inside on Monday. She said they’ve relied on social media and online shopping options for their customers to get them through, but have missed out on thousands of dollars from their usual walk-in traffic.
"We are very anxious to get business back going again," said Blackwelder. "So far, our plan is for our employees all to wear face masks when the customers are in the store."
She says they also plan to have hand sanitizer in their fitting rooms too.
But Blackwelder says she is sad that not all the businesses along Park Avenue will be allowed to reopen under the tier one guidelines, namely all the salons and day spas that pepper the tony Shopping Area.
"I think that's awful," said Blackwelder. "I wish that they could open now - and especially if they could open wearing masks since they are close contact."
Over at the Bonne Vie New York salon, the doors will remain closed next week.
Much to the dismay of their customers and staff.
"We were pretty much sure under phase one to be open," said Aghayev. "Unfortunately that did not happen."
Aghayev says they had already started booking clients for next month, but has had to push them back.
“Everyone was texting each other saying oh my God, I can’t believe they’re not opening salons,” said Aghayev.
He says his salon serves more than 6,000 clients in Central Florida. And while he and his staff are using the downtime to do some remodeling, he’s anxious to reopen, so his stylists can start recouping all the money they’ve lost.
"They are very upset obviously like everybody else," said Aghayev. "But we have to go through this like the whole country is going through this, the whole world is going through this. So we just have to be part of it."
Aghayev says he will make sure to have the proper PPE in place - including gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer - that way he’ll be ready for when customers will finally be allowed to come in. He says once he is allowed to reopen, his salon will be open seven days a week with extended hours to factor in social distancing requirements.
Just a couple of blocks away at Pannullo’s Italian Restaurant, they’ve been doing a lot of cleaning, as the owner and staff are getting ready to reopen the restaurant to dine in guests on Monday.
“Fortunately we have had a tremendously loyal customer base that has kept us afloat,” said co-owner Michael Schwartz.
Schwartz says his restaurant has been able to maintain a decent business doing takeout service. But is ready for dine-in service. He says he sees no problems following the tier one guidelines of using social distancing for seating guests outside - and allowing 25 percent capacity for seating anyone inside. The one thing he says won’t be coming back is the salad bar the restaurant used to offer.
Schwartz says they are also making sure they have all the required PPE - and have workers and servers wear masks, should it be required by the county.
He says they are also ready to do temperature checks on workers too.
“We are ready to rock and roll,” said Schwartz.