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Beach business owners hope for spring break boost during pandemic

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Posted at 10:43 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 23:17:01-04

CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla.  — Beachside business owners are hoping for a resurgence as visitors flock to Tampa Bay for spring break.

It was one year ago this month when Pinellas County temporarily shut down its public beaches, dealing a crippling blow to restaurants, bars and shops along the Gulf.

Monday marked the start of spring break 2021 and crowds are already lining up to dine at local restaurants.

Rusty Pearl says the pandemic ate into 80% of revenue at Pearly’s Beach Eats over the last year.

“I’m glad to see it and it’s great having it here,” said Pearl. “It’s a big impact on our business but unfortunately it doesn’t make up for that year’s loss.”

Chamber of Commerce leaders say, despite the tough year, some business owners are expanding.

Caddy’s opened its sixth location in Madeira Beach just in time for spring break.

Slyce Pizza Bar is also looking to open a new location along the beach.

“Our biggest challenge is to find people to employ and have these businesses be able to serve the customers,” said Robin Miller, President and CEO of Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce. “Everyone needs to hold on, let’s get through this season successfully and safely and we’ll look forward to see what the summer has to come.”