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Robert Trigaux

In Florida's tougher tourism times, saved by the Greek house dressing



Farmerboydressingcwater Wake up and good morning. So, way down at the bottom of a Wall Street Journal story this weekend about Florida's dragging tourism economy, is Chris Constantinou, owner of the Farmer Boy Greek restaurant in Clearwater.

Constantinou offers a compelling anecdote. In recent years, he began selling his homemade salad dressing through such supermarkets as Publix, Sweetbay, Hannaford and Giant. While business at the restaurant has fallen by 30 percent this year, the Journal reports, the dressing has emerged as a linchpin to his business -- D&C Brothers Corp. -- during the recession.

The Farmer Boy Greek house dressing "is now a matter of survival," says Constantinou. "It's supporting the restaurant."

Talk about the tail wagging the dog. Thank goodness the restaurant has a tail to wag. The Journal article paints a pretty rough picture of the Florida tourism market with visits by non-Floridians expected to have dropped by as much as 9 percent during the fiscal year ended June 30. And tax receipts from tourism and recreation-related activities in the state's current fiscal year are expected to fall by more than $235 million, or 6 percent.

Caroldoverflarestaurantandlodgingassociation The Journal quotes Carol Dover, chief executive of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association: "It's terrible. You've got the engine of the Florida economy getting to a real breaking point."

The Journal's conclusion? Florida tourism won't recover until well after the national economy rebounds... I think they may be on to something.

(Photos courtesy of Farmer Boy and Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.)

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:25am]


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