Palm Beach County businesses watching how reopening goes across the state

Posted at 3:40 PM, May 04, 2020

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — What will reopening look like for Palm Beach County?

County leaders and businesses are waiting to get the green light from Gov. Ron DeSantis, but they're also watching how reopening goes for counties to the north.

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Tables and chairs were stacked high at The Cooper Restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens on Monday.

About 30 minutes north of there, restaurants in Martin County begin to operate at 25 percent capacity.

Just a few days out from Mother’s Day weekend, The Cooper can only do take out

"Usually it's packed and this is really, I'm telling you, it's like, the Twilight Zone we are in. It’s crazy, said William Penenori, managing partner of The Cooper.

Penenori is watching how guests and other restaurants in other counties respond to operating at 25 percent capacity as required by Phase One of the governor’s reopening plan.

The restauranteur has doubts about it working if it extends beyond a couple of weeks.

"The size of this restaurant is massive and it needs to operate at 100 percent at all times. Even on slow days we have to cut where we can. So how's the future going to look at 25 percent? It's impossible," said Penenori.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay is anxious to see what the governor’s plans are for the county and what will a Phase One will look like.

"What I'll be looking for as the rest of Florida opens is whether or not the guidelines that are put in place for the reopening are followed," said McKinlay.

Penenori said he’s hopeful the governor will increase the maximum seating capacity to give restaurants a fighting chance.

"Unless we change our strategy of how we are going to start doing business differently. But at 25 percent, no one can survive that," said Penenori.