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Palm Coast Tuesday, Jun. 30, 2020 1 week ago

Can bars survive another closure? One Palm Coast owner says it's unfair to close bars but not restaurants

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Portia Moy has owned Scruffys since it opened in 2012.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

With the state of Florida requiring bars to close just three weeks after they had been allowed to reopen, one local owner is wondering if her business will be able to survive at all.

Portia Moy has owned Scruffys since it opened in 2012, at 1000 Palm Coast Parkway SW, Suite 104. Following the governor’s orders, she originally shut down on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, due to precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“They gave us notice that we had to close at 5 p.m. that day, which is a little unrealistic when you have a full bar and a full staff,” she said. But, “It was the right thing to do at the time.”

She was scheduled to get beer delivered the next day, and she was able to cancel the order, so she wasn’t stuck with inventory that would go to waste. Still, during the time she was closed, Moy lost a lot of money.

Even without the doors opening, rent and power bills combined for more than $4,000 per month. Her staff was able to receive unemployment benefits, she said, but being closed meant she forfeited about $60,000 in revenue.

Moy owns two boutique retail businesses, and she was able to survive financially, she said. “I was more worried about my girls,” she said, referring to her employees.

Nicole Chester, Katie Troina, Portia Moy, Nicole Campanaro, Jamie Geisel and Nathan Swick

When she reopened at 50% capacity on June 5, she had signs posted to remind customers to observe social distancing. She had hand sanitizer on all the available tables, and staff wore masks.

Still, it was difficult to enforce the rules for the customers, especially at night time, when younger crowds would gather and pull chairs together and add more to a table than was recommended.

“I feel like we did everything we could,” she said. “We’re not a daycare. We’re not here to separate children. More than likely, if you confront them, they won’t stay.”

Scruffys is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and the nighttime sales are double those of the daytime.

Moy said it was unfair for the state to allow restaurants to reopen sooner than bars, and it was unfair to again close bars but not restaurants.

“It’s not alcohol that spreads the virus,” she said.

She said many customers who can’t go to Scruffys end up at restaurants that have bars, where they act the same as they would at Scruffys.

“We probably should not have opened any of it as soon as we did,” Moy said. “But at this point, you’re picking and choosing.”

She’s nervous about how long the next shutdown will last.

“If I knew I had to close it for another three months, I would probably throw in the towel, even though it would crush me,” she said. “I love the bar business. … I just don’t know if I could handle another three months.”

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