'It’s going to be different when we open up’: Broward restauranteur says

DANIA BEACH, Fla. – Tropical Acres Steakhouse’s history in Broward County goes back to 1949. It has survived hurricanes and adapted during economic recessions to position itself as an icon of the local dining scene. The coronavirus is once again testing its resilience.

Before the pandemic started to impact South Florida, the restaurant was serving superior cuts of prime rib, filet mignon, Maine lobster, fresh fish and New York strip to large crowds. Jack Sturdiale, the owner of the restaurant, said he was able to welcome about 400 people during a busy night.

On a busy night before the coronavirus pandemic, Tropical Acres Steakhouse could welcome 400 people. (Local 10 News Share)

“It’s going to be different when we open up,” Sturdiale said Thursday. “I have already said to my three managers that I want each to come up with a floor plan for the dining room. I am anticipating we are going to be cutting out 50% of my seats.”

Sturdiale said adapting to the new safety rules will mean restauranteurs will be forced to raise prices. With fewer customers, some will need fewer employees. And as the coronavirus continues to spread and affect farms and slaughterhouses, prices could continue to increase.

Tropical Acres Steakhouse has been serving their loyal clientele through take-out and deliver during the pandemic. (Local 10 News)

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Wednesday every restaurant in Florida -- except those in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties -- will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity on Monday. During Phase 1 of the reopening process, face masks are still required for “face-to-face” business.

“I cannot envision the staff wearing masks to take the orders,” Sturdiale said.

Tropical Acres Steakhouse employees are wearing face masks and gloves. (Local 10 News)

Restauranteurs all over the country are trying to find ways to make their businesses feel welcoming to survive the pandemic. For now, Sturdiale is focused on having seating in place, which means eliminating tables to comply with the 6-foot distancing rule.

Sturdiale said he hopes authorities will allow Broward County restaurants to reopen by the third week of May. For now, the restaurant’s loyal following is keeping his kitchen open for take-out and delivery. For more information, visit the restaurant’s page here.


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