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Delray Beach restaurants encouraged by bump in sales heading into tourist season

Florida residents could be key to helping businessess
Posted at 3:56 PM, Nov 30, 2020

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — November is typically the start of tourist season in South Florida.

Area businesses rely on winter visitors for a much-needed economic boost, especially with the pandemic taking a chunk out of their profits this year.

But business owners say they are seeing more visitors from other parts of Florida than people from northern states.

Travel agent Jeff Dash said this year's tourist season is going to look different with the pandemic.

"The local staycation market is very big," Dash said.

Jeff Dash
Travel agent Jeff Dash says he has seen an increase in Florida residents traveling within the state for a day trip.

He says the lack of cruises and international travel will be a huge loss, but his company has noticed an increase in people traveling from other Florida cities.

"People are definitely coming out, even if it is just a day trip into Delray Beach," Dash said.

Craig O'Keefe, managing partner for Lionfish restaurant and Johnnie Brown's, also noticed more people enjoying staycations.

Sales picked up in downtown Delray Beach during November, he said.

O'Keefe points out that the businesses on Atlantic Avenue have maintained COVID-19 guidelines to create a safe space.

Craig O'Keefe
Craig O'Keefe, the managing partner at Clique Hospitality, is encouraged that business will increase as tourist season begins.

"I think that has been the best part of it is the hope people are comfortable getting back out," O'Keefe said.

Johnnie Brown's started opening for lunch a few weeks ago.

"There's been a lot more demand for lunch service now, and that does come with people traveling and moving here," O'Keefe said.

He said they have not seen the normal tourist crowds along Atlantic Avenue so far, but the small boost is promising.

"Hopefully, we can just build off that," O'Keefe said.

He said he is looking forward to December, and they plan to have plenty of promotions for the holidays.