JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A popular Miramar neighborhood restaurant and sports bar, which normally attracts large numbers of customers and sports enthusiasts, is now suffering a financial impact from fears surrounding the new coronavirus.
The three owners of the Players Grille told News4Jax that business has dropped more than 50% in the last several days as more people are staying indoors and avoiding crowded places in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“And we should have been over because of the golf tournament and basketball going on,” owner George Sarkees said. “It’s a terrible thing and, obviously, if you are an older person, you’re older and have respiratory problems, you’re pretty much at risk.”
Weekends are generally busy at the Players Grille, especially during March Madness and The Players Championship. But since those tournaments were canceled, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were so slow that some employees at the Players Grilled were sent home early because there weren’t enough customers.
The restaurant is also a popular after-church location on Sundays for breakfast and lunch, but the restaurant was nearly empty during brunch Sunday.
“There are five churches within a mile of here and, every Sunday, we become a church-out-the-door place. But as I look around, there’s not one church person in here," Sarkees said.
And with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, the owners fear their annual restaurant St. Patrick’s Day tradition is in jeopardy.
“For 21 years we’ve been doing that and it’s a big day, always," Sarkees said. "And we loaded up on the corned beef. We had six cases come in Friday.”
And things could get worse now that Mayor Lenny Curry has asked certain businesses, including restaurants and bars, to limit their capacity to 50 people. The owners said they fear it will be hard to recoup money that they spent on food supplies, let alone pay the rent. Sarkees said they were also bombarded with questions from customers following the mayor’s announcement.
“They’re all asking are we going to close. And I just say we have to play it by ear,” Sarkees said.
The owners of the Players Grille are hoping this situation is only temporary, but only time will tell.