PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – As Florida settles into the Thanksgiving wave of the pandemic, a pair of Pasco County restaurant owners recount their struggles through the early wave of the pandemic and urge residents to continue supporting local restaurants.

“We don’t all have the means to go out and eat, but if you do, go,” said Pasco County business owner, Lindsey Fowler. In the quaint downtown area of Dade City, Florida, you’ll find just off to the side a hidden favorite amongst those living there, called Green Door on 8th. “We believe that good food creates good conversation and that’s kind of how we built our business,” said Fowler, co-owner of that business with her husband, Greg.

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For three years now, Greg and Lindsey have given their all to Pasco County residents. “We both love food. We have a passion for it. So, we took the opportunity, people thought we were crazy… And we are but that’s ok,” joked Fowler. But back in March, that small town dream was interrupted by the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I was in the hospital at the time, having twins. You know, just watching everything unfold on the news in the hospital not having any control of that and as soon as we got home, we were trying to figure out where we were going to go or what we were going to do as a restaurant. We knew things were shutting down,” she said. “The fear. The fear was really instilled in everybody. I think it still is… still is.”

But being a new mom and devoted business owners, Lindsey and Greg put their minds to work instead. “Giving people what they wanted. They wanted sangria, we gave them sangria. Greg could tell you more about how many gallons of sangria we made,” she said. “[We] Took on takeout, which wasn’t our strongest suit but we did it and started doing family packages, family meals, trying to change with the times because we knew it was not in our control.”

While recounting what helped them thrive through the pandemic, the Fowlers suggests small business owners repurpose space they already have. What was originally a shop next door had become available space, so they purchased. Immediately after, the pandemic hit and so it was useless… or so most would think. “We took our event room here and, during the pandemic, we turned it into a sangria-making room. We also made it a pop-up shop for produce and now that we can have diners, we use it as a dining room in addition to our other dining room so that we can socially distance our guests to where they feel comfortable,” said Fowler.

Now, Lindsey Fowler is urging residents to support local businesses and reminds business owners to focus on what’s important, “not worrying about how much money you’re making, but you’re staying alive and keeping your people employed and keeping people fed.”

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