Fort Lauderdale making way for more outdoor seating

Other businesses trying to come up with creative ways to stay afloat

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Restaurants are working hard to revive their businesses during the reopening after being shuttered for COVID-19. For some other businesses that aren’t allowed to open yet, they are trying every measure to stay afloat until they can open their doors.

Businesses are asking Fort Lauderdale city leaders to close off the parking lot at the North Beach Shoppes on Galt Ocean Mile after 6 p.m. That would mean more open space, more distancing and more people patronizing restaurants.

The North Beach Restaurant and Shoppe coalition said it would be like Sunday block parties the area would host pre-pandemic.

Cathy Vassalo, the owner of Fishtales restaurant, said that only 50 percent occupancy inside and most people wanting to be outside, the idea to extend restaurant seating into the North Beach Shoppes parking lot would help.

“I’m only able to have three tables outside and that’s obviously not enough to support the restaurant and the starving musicians who have all lost their jobs until we can get back up to speed. We can separate them 10 feet. We have the room for that and this way everyone will feel safe,” Vassalo said.

The North Beach Restaurants and Shoppes, located on the Galt, would have access to extend their dining outdoors in an area between A1A and Northeast 33rd Avenue. The access could begin Monday, May 25.

On Las Olas, plans to temporarily close some street parking between Southeast 6th Avenue and Southeast 11th Avenue is also being considered by Fort Lauderdale’s City Commission. That could start as early as this weekend.

Fort Lauderdale City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said the city is looking for ways to balance safety and build business.

“We tried it out on the beach for the last several weekends, where we closed a lane down and it worked great, It caused people to be outside, but to be apart,” Lagerbloom said.

Other businesses that are still not yet allowed to open are holding on until they get the green light from city officials.

Now disabled, NAVY and Law Enforcement Veteran Rob Wheeler runs Strength Camp Coconut Creek.

The growing strength and conditioning business shut down because of COVID-19 in danger of never opening again, Wheeler said.

“Fitness saved my life , I suffered a lot of anxiety and depression from my time in the military,” he said.

Like most gym owners, Wheeler has taken proper precautions for reopening and spending money for those precautions with none coming in.

“Every day I am not open is a day closer to me saying I have to quit,” Wheeler said.

He started a GoFundMe page hoping that helps keep Strength Camp going until he’s allowed to open for business.

Check out Wheeler’s GoFundMe page here.