Friday, December 15, 2017
Business

Many Tampa Bay companies were back in business Tuesday

ST. PETERSBURG — After prolonged closures caused by Hurricane Irma, many companies throughout Tampa Bay were gradually getting back to business Tuesday — a huge relief for customers searching for hot food, groceries and supplies.

National retailers such as Walmart, Publix Supermarket and Walgreens opened stores on a case-by-case basis in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties — if they had power, officials said.

Having power is only one thing that a business owner must consider when deciding to open back a store after a natural disaster, said entrepreneur Roberto Torres, who has three Blind Tiger locations in Tampa and The Lab Coffee Roasters.

RELATED COVERAGE:After Irma, the hard part begins for Florida, Tampa Bay

Torres said he first checked on the safety of his employees, then the damage to the properties and then for spoiled products due to power lost. He said he also offered workers hot food and hot showers if they were without power.

"I didn't want to be that guy," he said.

Blind Tiger in Seminole Heights is opened, while the other locations are closed due to a lack of power.

Companies in certain industries were more affected than others. Many gas stations, for instance, remained closed either without power or gas -- or both. Some banks were closed with an option for customers to use the ATM or the drive thru.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Help is on the way, but use gas sparingly for now

At some places, windows remained dark, doors locked and, in some cases, workers left behind a handwritten sign indicating the restaurant was closed until further notice. Some owners sprayed encouraging or threatening notes on plywood nailed to board the windows.

Yet, many customers seemed just happy to be alive and among family.

"Experiences like these make you focus on what's important," Steve McNutt, 62, said standing outside of Fresh Market at 2900 Fourth Street North with his son Aidan McNutt, 17. As Alaskans, this is the family's first hurricane.

After four days of running from Irma — which included stops in Tampa and Jacksonville — McNutt said it was "good to be back on a familiar road." The two arrived back in St. Petersburg Monday night finding little damage to their home and power.

Others like Equilla Robinson, 45, went to the store to prep meals for their evacuated houseguests. She grabbed spaghetti sauce and ordered a cake for her son's fifth birthday in a few weeks from Publix at 250 Third Street South.

There was only one customer in the small dining area at China Kitchen around 11 a.m., a different scene from the previous night, said Annie Lu, 42, an employee.

The line was out the door with orders taking more than an hour. The restaurant also stayed open an extra hour to accommodate the high demand.

A few doors down at American Spirit, which opened 1 p.m. on Monday, said customers spilled over into the liquor store as people waited in line at the Chinese restaurant.

Richard Roy, 64, owner of American Spirit, said he was "thankful" there was no damage at the store. But, Roy and all of his employees were without power at their home.

"We got lucky considering what was the possibility," he said, adding that sme customers have come in search of ice, which he doesn't have.

RELATED COVERAGE: Insurance agencies, consumers take stock of Hurricane Irma damage

Across town at Tyrone Square, the mall was busy, after opening its doors at 11 a.m. Tuesday. However, most people weren't there to shop. Many of them had to-go containers from the food court, where six of the eight restaurants were opened at noon. The lines were relatively short compared to the long line at a fast food drive thru. Outside the mall, many of the food options — Bonefish Grill, Red Robin, Rubio's Coastal Grill and The Brass Tap — were still closed at lunchtime.

Some customers huddled around the power stations or accessed the mall's free wifi throughout the mall. More than two dozen children hopped around in the play area in front of the J.C. Penney's entrance while their guardians watched on.

Everyone, it seemed, was trying to resume their normal life in their own way — including a few girls at the Sephora inside J.C. Penney purchasing Rihanna's new makeup line Fenty Beauty.

"I was afraid they would be out of stock," said Hollie Grchan, 19, who was eying more than $100 worth of product including a foundation, the match stix trio and a highlighter.

Times staff writer Justine Griffin contributed to this report. Contact Tierra Smith at [email protected] tampabay.com. Follow @bytierrasmith.

Comments
St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, under construction since 2015, is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2019.The five-story, 137,100-square-foot building will house businessman and collector Rudy Ciccarello’s...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Today is the day that open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act will close for most people. But those affected by the slew of hurricanes that pummelled Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and other states earlier this year can take advantage of a two-week ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Taxpayer subsides of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

Taxpayer subsides of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

TAMPA — For the half of the year that Harry Nichols lives in Oldsmar, he plays 18 holes several times a month at Rocky Point Golf Course. On a good day, Nichols said he shoots close to par on the Dana Shores course. And if he’s really lucky, it’ll on...
Published: 12/15/17
Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

A record-breaking number of Americans are expected to travel this holiday season.The American Automobile Association projects that 107.3 million Americans will pack their bags and travel more than 50 miles by planes, trains, automobiles and other mod...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Local widowers say baby powder caused their wives’ cancer

Local widowers say baby powder caused their wives’ cancer

Two Tampa area widowers whose wives died of ovarian cancer are suing Johnson & Johnson, joining nearly 5,000 other plaintiffs across the country who blame their illness on the daily use of the pharmaceutical company’s talcum powder.Bryan Isa’s wife, ...
Published: 12/14/17
Jabil’s fiscal results top Wall Street expectations

Jabil’s fiscal results top Wall Street expectations

ST. PETERSBURG — Jabil Circuit Inc. beat Wall Street expectations for both profits and revenue Thursday.The St. Petersburg-based contract electronics manufacturer — one of Tampa Bay’s biggest public companies — posted fiscal first-quarter earnings of...
Published: 12/14/17
Soccer store opens on Gunn Highway, just in time for the World Cup

Soccer store opens on Gunn Highway, just in time for the World Cup

Even though the United States Men’s soccer team didn’t qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, that hasn’t diminished local fans’ excitement about the upcoming international event.Ariel Martinez, owner of Best Buy Soccer and Lacrosse, has already receiv...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa chamber names first companies for minority business accelerator

Tampa chamber names first companies for minority business accelerator

TAMPA — Four firms in marketing, construction and secure cash logistics will be the first to go to through a new Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce program designed to help black- and Hispanic-owned companies grow their businesses through two years of...
Published: 12/14/17
FCC votes down Obama-era ‘net neutrality’ rules

FCC votes down Obama-era ‘net neutrality’ rules

NEW YORK — The Federal Communications Commission has voted on party lines to undo sweeping Obama-era "net neutrality" rules that guaranteed equal access to internet.The agency’s Democratic commissioners dissented in the 3-2 vote Thursday.The FCC’s ne...
Published: 12/14/17
From Crystal River to Brooksville, branch out to shop on these unexpected main streets

From Crystal River to Brooksville, branch out to shop on these unexpected main streets

You don’t have to stare at a greeting card to picture a bustling old main street lined with decorated shops and lampposts. Historic small-town shopping districts are easy to find, and more charming than Walmart. Beyond the downtowns of St. Pet...
Published: 12/14/17