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Pinellas County business hard hit twice amid coronavirus outbreak

Posted at 7:24 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 19:24:22-04

LARGO, Fla. — Looking at empty, broken freezers makes Victoria Chagnon sick to her stomach.

“It’s always been a dream to have a sports bar,” said Chagnon.

Her dream came alive when she opened the Sports Shack in Largo in December.

“This is my life savings,” said Chagnon. “It’s like I moved down here, and I put everything into this.”

Then the coronavirus crisis hit the United States. Florida's "Safer-at-Home" order forced Chagnon along with other area business owners to close their dining rooms to the public. Her business went down by 90 percent.

The restaurant was stressed again when people interpreted a story on ABC Action News last week to mean the business wasn’t complying with the order, but the restaurant was always in compliance, and it went to takeout only.

“We were trying to regroup and try to keep employees employed and keep the business afloat, then I get hit with other types of issues,” said Chagnon.

The restaurant faced electrical problems, which wiped out their power and blew out their freezers.

“All our food spoiled,” said Chagnon. “We have kegs of beer, just everything is spoiled, rotten and had to be thrown out.”

The business owner says the problems have cost her more than $10,000. Without food, working freezers, and by being temporarily closed, Chagnon has questioned if the new business would make it.

“A lot of prayer,” said Chagnon. “I’ve just got to regroup and try and figure out how I can salvage this and how I can get new ideas and new ways and get new customers, and anything I can do to stay afloat and rebuild again.”

We reached out to Duke Energy regarding the electrical problems. They tell us they’re committed to thoroughly reviewing submitted claims and responding to customers’ concerns.

Still, Chagnon is staying optimistic they can once again put an open sign on their door.

“Just take each hour by hour and build up to day by day and then hopefully maybe one day we’ll be back,” said Chagnon.