TITUSVILLE, Fla. – After toughing it out in Titusville for the last few months, businesses are getting ready to serve crowds on the Space Coast ahead of the historic SpaceX launch sending man into space from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011.
"It's way past time for us to put our own people into space again and I'm excited about that," said Ginny Fitzpatrick, owner of Casa Coquina Bed and Breakfast.
She said she was fully booked Tuesday night and required guests to stay a minimum of two nights, which she said guests had no problem with, some even booking through the weekend in case the launch is scrubbed until Saturday.
“It’s been slow but now we are really booming,” Fitzpatrick said. “Because we are the only place on the whole space coast - the only lodging right now where you can see the launch pads from our deck.”
On the second floor of the bed and breakfast, there is a deck that overlooks the Indian River with a clear view of all the launch pads. Usually, for evening launches, they host a happy hour, however, this year they will not be doing so, Fitzpatrick said. Instead, guests will still be able to watch the launch from the deck by social distancing and are required to wear masks.
“It’s been a little nerve-racking but we are careful,” Fitzpatrick said. “We have all kinds of protocols, we put into effect to make sure that everyone is safe.”
Down the road, owner of Dogs-R-Us Chris Waag is also a little bit nervous about the crowds but plans to bring every staff member on his team in to make sure they are serving at 50% percent capacity on the inside and keeping social distancing in the large parking lot on the outside. They will be charging $20 dollars for parking to limit the capacity, as well as encouraging eating to-go orders inside the car.
"We are pretty excited for it, kind of nervous," Waag said. "It will be a large crowd but we will do the best we can to handle it."
Waag choosing to stay open after losing about 80% of his business in the last two months. He believes watching the historic launch from across the Indian River on Wednesday will be a sign of hope for businesses along the Space Coast.
"We can step forward, another step forward," he said with tears in his eyes. "That is what we need right now. The last two months have been rough."
However, Pier 220 right under the A. Max Brewer Bridge and in front of a public parking lot, has decided to close for the historic launch on Wednesday.
"I think 99% of the staff just didn't feel comfortable," said General Manager Charlie Cooper. "It comes down to the safety not only for our staff but the local community here as well. I just believe that it is not always about the business profit but it's more or less we are just not sure how it's going to be tomorrow."
If the launch is scrubbed until Saturday, Cooper said the restaurant will reevaluate.
However, many of the businesses are excited for the weekend as well as the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center is scheduled to open on Thursday.