Hope for the hospitality industry as Restaurant Week begins in Southwest Florida

Restaurant Week is even more special this year because Southwest Florida owners are hoping it can bring some hope back to the hospitality industry. But this week isn’t just about owners, it’s about the employees as well.

James Miller, owner of The Pearl in Naples, says the pandemic has been hard for his restaurant and his staff. “That was probably one of the hardest things for us to shut the doors on our employees during COIVD-19,” said Miller.

The Miller family is no stranger to hardship. “We had a restaurant in Everglades City since 1992 and then Hurricane Irma happened,” Miller said.

Now, they’re cooking up specialties out of Collier County after that storm forced him to relocate. He’s even gone through a name-change.

“Used to be called The Oyster House and how an oyster gets its pearl is through pain and growth so that’s how we came up with The Pearl,” he said.

As the pandemic continues to create new challenges for everyone, restaurants plan to be resilient. They’re hoping Hospitality Restaurant Week, a 14-day event will give businesses that were temporarily shut down and lost their workers a much-needed boost.

David Durant is an Executive Chef at New York Pizza and Pasta. “We’re doing ti NYPP style and it is going to be five course instead of three courses, you’re going to have your choice between soup and salad,” he said.

Some of the 50 participating restaurants include 21 Spices and New York Pizza and Pasta are already firing up their kitchens and dishing out good deals.

Asif Syed is the Executive Chef at 21 Spices. “Restaurants really need this. This may be some restaurants last season if they don’t have a good season and events like this really drive traffic,” said Syed.

“The people of Naples are fantastic. They are helping the local businesses and I’m very sure that this week they’ll come forward and help, in fact, they already started.”

Restaurant Week offers $39 three-course meals for the community. $1 from every meal sold during restaurant week is donated to the Hospitality Management Program at FGCU.

Follow this link for a list of participating restaurants.

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Drew Hill
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