South Florida small business owners beginning to feel pinch of COVID-19 restrictions


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Many small business owners across South Florida are having an especially hard time as fears over the coronavirus outbreak continue to grow.

Erin Branham is the owner of A2 Events in Fort Lauderdale. Her company specializes in event planning and destination management for outside companies, but with social distancing encouraged and groups of more than 10 discouraged, her business has taken a major hit.

“It is just completely shut down, we got hit really hard and really fast,” Branham said. “All of our events are canceled until the fall, and we have just been trying to keep everybody together and afloat.”

Up and running for the past six years, Erin told Local 10 News’ Roy Ramos that she only has four employees and sub-contracts most of her work. She said she has chosen to continue paying them, but it has come at a cost.

“I am personally taking a sacrifice at this point,” she said. “I am not paying myself. I have sacrificed my salary in order to allow them to have theirs.”

A2 Events not the only small business feeling the effects of the coronavirus.

Shahmeer Alam, owner of the Halal Guys restaurant in Cypress Creek, says he has stopped dine-in services, sent some of his employees home and moved to a delivery service that he is now paying for.

“We have had to cut back,” Alam explained. “By creating these opportunities, we are also giving an opportunity to bring in the business and then also bring the employees back.”

Meanwhile, two of the top chefs in Miami, Michelle Bernstein and Mike Pirolo, are doing the same as many other local business owners and asking for help, taking to social media to get the attention of the local and state government.

A Miami Beach staple, Maccialina, owned by Pirolo, is open for delivery and curbside pickup, as enforced by the city.

The story is the same at Fort Lauderdale restaurant Temple Street eatery. Owner Diego Ng is doing all he can to maintain his business and work for his employees.

Changes to small businesses are happening all across South Florida, where owners are doing what they can to stay afloat.

Business expert Joe Luzinski focuses on helping failing businesses. He sat down with Local 10 News’ Roy Ramos, who asked what business owners will need to do so they are not forced to close their doors.

“Preserving cash, not making unnecessary expenditures, providing for your employees and your customers,” Luzinski said.

Luzinski also recommends that small business owners do their research to see what loans they may qualify for.

Unfortunately, he says some owners will have to make crucial decisions that may be difficult in order to keep their businesses up and running.

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