PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — It's been almost a month since Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed restaurants to partially reopen, but one Palm Beach County-based chain conspicuously has not opened its 34 locations.
Duffy's Sports Grill, the family-owned and run business, posted on Facebook that it is "social distancing, not disappearing."
WPTV NewsChannel 5 on Tuesday exclusively received this statement from Joe Webb, president of Duffy's.
"We have been diligently following local mandates and CDC guidance across all Duffy's locations and out of an abundance of caution, we have taken this time to leave no stone unturned to ensure the safety and quality of service to the standard we are known for. Duffy's has locations spread over numerous counties with varying local mandates, and we are investing extra time to ensure each store receives the support needed to open safely and responsibly. Many of these locations still fall under Phase 1 regulations with limitations on capacity and bar use, which greatly hinders operations and guest experience. Many of our colleagues opened quickly to find they could not sustain business at 50% capacity and have had to lay off employees subsequently. Opening responsibly also includes sustainability for Duffy's. We are looking to the future by taking the steps now needed to keep the doors open and our Team Members employed so we can continue to serve our communities. We are excited to announce our official reopening plans for July in the next couple of days!"
These photos, which WPTV obtained in May, showed Duffy's shooting pictures of its new post-quarantine menu items, indicating the chain had plans to reopen.
During Duffy's shutdown, rumors on social media about why the chain hasn't reopened were vast.
"I heard Ale House bought em."
"I miss them! Heard that the investors were having some issues before the virus hit and that they are regrouping. Might close some of the stores and keep open the very successful ones ??"
Other customers expressed anger and disappointment in their posts on Facebook.
You guys really need to communicate SOMETHING... I am seeing dozens of posts all over that you are Closed Forever, Bankrupt, or Sold.
I understand there are terrible times for the hospitality business. Lives are being turned upside down, long-standing businesses crushed.
But meanwhile, restaurants are re-opening all across the country, and Duffy's last comment was almost a WEEK AGO.
This is not a good time for corporate silence. Very poor crisis management, in my opinion - letting Social Media control your story instead of transparently getting in front of it yourself. Just Tell The Truth!
I am surprised that a well-run business like Duffy's is failing so spectacularly here.
"There's a For Lease sign right outside the Duffy's West Boynton location. You know, having about 20 years experience in public relations and corporate communications, I can tell you the powers-that-be at Duffy's could have done so much better. Instead, everyone from the employees to loyal customers like myself (Hall of Fame cardholder) all seemed to be met with radio silence and cloak and dagger posts."
Other loyal Duffy's fans can't wait for one of their restaurants to open back up.
"I just know that I need a gummy bear mojito soon!"
"All I do know for SURE is that I really miss boneless chicken wings."
Throughout the Duffy's shutdown, the restaurant chain entertained its followers on Facebook with trivia. Followers could earn "MVP points" to the restaurant's customer loyalty program.