December 2, 2020

South Florida Comes to Life for Thanksgiving with Hopes for More to Come, but Where are the Waiters?

Miami Beach…Mendel Segal of the popular Backyard BBQ on Harding Avenue literally had to recruit people off the street to fill in as waiters as the first signs of a significant return by tourists was evident over the recent Thanksgiving Day weekend. He and the other kosher restaurants on Harding had experienced some difficult months struggling to stay afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some survived thanks to the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) while others dipped into savings. Many of the regular waiters had returned home and were not available for the holiday rush which is why the restaurants were suddenly scurrying for wait staff. But the sight of the returning tourists was an encouraging sign for Mendel and the other restaurants. At the nearby Street Kitchen, every table, both indoors and outdoors, was booked. The restaurants did their best to comply with social distancing.  Across the street, renovations were progressing in what is the latest Grove Kosher Supermarket, joining stores in Hollywood, Delray Beach and Boca Raton. In Aventura’s Kosher Kingdom, Thursday evening was Thanksgiving but also the Erev Shabbat rush. When most of the staff left early for their family holiday dinner, the store was forced to close earlier than their posted 9:00 pm closing. At the Carriage Club, many people went to the outdoor shuls, still not being comfortable with prayers indoors. Restaurateurs were hoping that the signs of life for Thanksgiving will bode well for the upcoming Chanukah and mid-Winter vacation periods. One waiter said albeit that some tourists are returning “we are on a countdown for the vaccine.”