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WE'RE OPEN: Rusty Bellies restaurant in Tarpon Springs offering grocery service amid pandemic

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Posted at 12:02 AM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 08:16:47-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Businesses across the country are working to figure out how to stay afloat financially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rusty Bellies in Tarpon Springs offers fresh seafood on the sponge docks for the past 15 years.

The restaurant endured Hurricane Irma, which perhaps, helped them prepare for the situation the owners currently find themselves in.

"Hurricane Irma's probably the closest thing," explains Jacquelyn Tunstall with Rusty Bellies. "But there was a lot of camaraderie and contact, so this is still very different from that, but it's important."

So, on top of offering take out and delivery, the popular restaurant also added a small grocery service.

You will find full-stocked meats, including fresh fish, dairy products, dry goods and fresh produce.

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"Tarpon is a very small town and Rusty Bellies is a big part of the community. So, we feel an obligation to be open for them, safely," says Tunstall. "We also have about 120 employees, so there's a commitment there to make sure they have a business to come back to."

That commitment also extends to the fishermen.

"The other reason to do it, the fish market, the fisherman, people that rely on them and fresh fish," explain Tunstall. "Fresh food is an essential need right now, so it's not just about the restaurant, it's the market, it's the community fisherman that sustain us all year long."

A community effort to make sure everyone has what they need.

You can read more about their efforts on their Facebook page or by clicking here.