Pandemic closes more than 130 Jacksonville area businesses forever

Data from YELP show 70 restaurants, 64 retail businesses have permanently close doors

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Businesses are taking a hard hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New data from YELP shows 602 businesses permanently or temporarily closed their doors to customers between March 1 and July 10.

The data also shows 70 Jacksonville area restaurants and 64 retail businesses have permanently closed.

“All the reasons why we chose this location are all working against us right now,” said Brooke Sams, co-owner of The Mini Bar

Sams said she and her husband, who own two Mini Bar locations, one at the beaches and the other on the Southside, have struggled -- especially at the location near the Town Center because all the surrounding businesses closed when The Mini Bar was just opening.

“For most people, the first month is the biggest sales that they’ll ever see, and we didn’t get that because we just couldn’t,” Sams said.

Sams said since they opened the second location on March 21, that location wasn’t eligible to receive PPP funding because a business had to be open before Feb. 15 to qualify.

With many struggling right now, few have been able to withstand. For The Mini Bar, Sams said closing for good is not an option. Half of the restaurant’s 40 employees left other jobs to come to work for them.

Across the nation, 132,500 businesses have closed as of July 10, according to the YELP data.

“We’re definitely not doing near what we would be projected to be doing here,” Sams said. “It’s not just the PPP. We don’t qualify for any city funding, government funding, state or federal funding. We’ve tried every single route.”

News4Jax also reached out to the J Chamber for a list of closures and it said it doesn’t have that information. aning supplies, the COVID-19 fight is putting The Mini Bar -- and other businesses throughout the community -- in a tough spot.

Since Yelp released the data, News4Jax asked for a full list of closures in the Jacksonville area and we received this response from a YELP spokesperson: “We don’t provide data at that level of granularity.”

News4Jax also reached out to the Jax Chamber for a list of closures and it said it doesn’t have that information.

Restaurants, hotels recognized

On Thursday, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association awarded a dozen restaurants and hotels across the state with the FRLA Seal of Commitment, showing their dedication to enhanced safety and sanitation practices.

Three local businesses made the list, including House of Leaf & Bean, One Ocean Resort & Spa and Don Juan’s Restaurant.

To qualify, businesses must ensure that all managers have a current food manager certification, all employees have a current Florida food handler certificate, and have completed the FRLA COVID-19 Sanitation & Safety Course.

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