The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce presents: Coronavirus Impact Insights. Click the play arrow above to watch the full video.
On this episode, restaurateur Steve Westphal joins Chris Steinocher, CEO of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Joe Hamilton, publisher of the St. Pete Catalyst to talk about reopening the many restaurants under his leadership – and feeding hungry people along the way.
Asked to sum up the last few weeks in one word, Westphal, who owns Beach Drive’s 400 Beach, Parkshore Grill and The Annex, as well as The Hangar Restaurant and Cafe Gala housed within the Dali Museum, says it’s been challenging – challenging for his businesses and for his employees to get the assistance they need in a time of crisis.
That’s why Westphal was so ready get his employees back to work when Gov. Ron DeSantis and Mayor Rick Kriseman allowed restaurants to reopen for outdoor seating and 25 percent indoor capacity Monday. Westphal says he was ready to get employees back to work so that they could take care of their families and have income to survive.
As restaurants were closed for dine-in guests, Westphal shuttered 400 Beach and the Hangar to the public, feeding his employees and their families through 400 Beach while they waited for unemployment assistance and feeding the community through the Hangar, which has helped to prepare and distribute nearly 20,000 meals to families in need in St. Petersburg. The Parkshore Grill has stayed open through it all to serve the public.
Now that restaurants are reopening, Westphal’s establishments are taking every precaution to stay safe. His employees are wearing face coverings, wearing gloves when serving food or picking up finished plates, and they’re sanitizing absolutely everything. In fact, Westphal says, his restaurants have reinvested everything with an eye on safety.
Westphal and his employees are being so careful because he says businesses cannot afford a misstep. “We have to get it right the first time… we don’t want to yo-yo effect,” he explains. Re-closures could prove even more damaging to an already ailing economy.
Partway into his first week of reopening, Westphal says diners are out, excited to be out and feeling happy and comfortable at 400 Beach, where he is practicing “The St. Pete Way.”
Look out for “The St. Pete Way” posters from the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce to find restaurants taking extra precautions to ensure your dining safety.