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Ron DeSantis meets with owners of Dunedin’s Black Pearl restaurant

The governor asked for the surprise meeting to discuss the future of Tampa Bay's restaurant industry.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday unexpectedly met with a couple of Dunedin restaurateurs to discuss the future of the Tampa Bay hospitality industry.

Zach and Christina Feinstein, who own The Black Pearl restaurant in downtown Dunedin, posted about their one-hour meeting with the governor late Wednesday afternoon.

“We were surprised this morning when we received a call from Tallahassee to notify us that Governor Ron DeSantis was traveling to Dunedin with the hopes of sitting down with Christina and I at The Black Pearl of Dunedin to discuss the future of the hospitality industry here in Tampa, as well as the trials and tribulations faced by restaurants and bars during the COVID-19 crisis,” Zach Feinstein wrote.

Gov. Ron DeSantis met with the owners of the Black Pearl in Dunedin on Wednesday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis met with the owners of the Black Pearl in Dunedin on Wednesday. [ Courtesy of ]

The couple also run Dunedin cocktail lounge Sonder Social Club and the Living Room on Main. Recently, they were forced to shutter their other restaurant, Iron Oak New American BBQ in Palm Harbor, due to the financial strains of the coronavirus pandemic.

Related: Some Tampa Bay restaurants closing amid safety concerns

“Although honored by the invitation and today’s private hour long meeting with the governor, it was a heavy responsibility painting the picture of the day to day struggles of the restaurant and bar entrepreneur during this time,” Feinstein wrote.

“We talked about the struggle, about our daily business, the effect of COVID-19 and the future and what it holds for us, Feinstein later told the Times.

DeSantis was in Clearwater for a roundtable discussion on education at Paul B. Stephens School. The restaurant visit was not initially listed on the governor’s public schedule. A revised schedule sent later noted the amendment.

A spokeswoman for DeSantis’ office did not provide any further information on the meeting.