Clearwater Beach business overcomes COVID-19 hardships | The Rebound Tampa Bay

Posted at 11:21 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 23:23:13-04

ABC Action News is committed to highlighting local businesses in an effort to help Tampa Bay rebound from the coronavirus.

CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. -- One week after the state's Phase 1 of Governor Ron DeSantis' plan to reopen Florida went into effect, ABC Action News reporter Ryan Smith went back to Pearly's Beach Eats, a Clearwater Beach business first profiled when city leaders decided to close the world-famous beach in March.

For the past several weeks, the hot spot beach town has looked more like a ghost town.

Owner Rusty Pearl was forced to close and temporarily let go about 30 employees.

"There was no one here," said Pearl. "It was strange. It was like the twilight zone."

Now, 50 days later, people once again dot the shore line and Pearl's staff is back serving loyal customers.

"It’s there but it’s pretty slow in comparison to where we would normally be this time of the year," said Pearl.

Pearl made it to the other side after shutting down but says the key to fully bouncing back is when hotels draw in more tourists.

"It's all about when travel starts back and people feel comfortable to come vacation again," said Pearl.

City officials announced Friday the Clearwater Back to Business Grant and Professional Services program.

It's a $4 million emergency relief fund to support the small businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applications will open on Monday, check to see if you qualify here.