April 30, 2020

Business owners react to Gov. DeSantis’ plan to reopen the state

1.8 min read| Published On: April 30th, 2020|

By James Combs

Business owners react to Gov. DeSantis’ plan to reopen the state

1.8 min read| Published On: April 30th, 2020|

coffeehouseBusiness owners in Lake County had mixed reactions to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ April 29 press conference in which he announced plans for lifting stay-at-home orders and reopening the state on a limited basis.

Jenny Deschenes, general manager of Burgers Tacos Waffles in Tavares, looks forward to seeing customers dine inside the facility. There is one stipulation, however. Capacity cannot exceed 25 percent.

“We’re excited for the opportunity to show how small businesses can maintain safety and still serve the public,” she says.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the restaurant has offered curbside service and online ordering.

“We’ll continue doing that for people who don’t feel safe,” she says. “This has been a long road, a rollercoaster, in fact. I’m happy to see that there’s light at the end of the tunnel and see all this come to an end.”

The beauty industry is not as fortunate. Salons will remain closed during the initial phase of reopening. That wasn’t welcome news to Annette Frederick, owner of Hair & Nail Creations in Wildwood.

“Stylists are educated in sanitation and sterilization processes, which comes in handy for times like these,” she says. “People are going to be much safer inside salons than they would inside a retail store or restaurant. Salons are going to be much cleaner than other venues.”

Ralph Smith, owner of Lake Tire & Auto in Tavares, says that he’s “still a Ron DeSantis guy.” However, he is baffled by some of the governor’s decisions this week.

“It’s a mixed bag,” he says. “I’m happy he gave restaurants permission to open, but I disagree with some of his overreach. I don’t think it is right that he’s not allowing a certain segment of the workforce to return to work. If a barbershop limits the number of customers to one at a time, where’s the harm in that? Having 10 people in a crowded elevator is OK, but having 10 people in a 5,000-square-foot building is not OK? Where’s the logic in that?”

Still, he says Gov. DeSantis is “doing a good job compared to other Republican governors.”

“He probably has information that I don’t. So I try to reserve judgement and not be overly critical,” Ralph says.

Mandy Wettstein Talmage, owner of a public relations firm in Mount Dora, was disappointed with the governor’s plan.

“Up until yesterday, I feel he did a tremendous job by dedicating resources where they needed to be,” she says. “But I was expecting more in terms of reopening. If you can shop inside a crowded grocery store, then you should be able to go to a gym or a salon. I think Floridians can figure things out from here without government heavy-handedness.”


About the Author: James Combs

James Combs was a pillar of Akers Media Group since its inception in 2008. Over the years, he had the honor of interviewing Lake & Sumter County's most fascinating personalities, from innovative business owners to heroic war veterans, bringing their incredible stories to life. Throughout his career, James earned over 50 awards for writing excellence, a testament to his talent and dedication. In 2021, he was inducted into the Akers Media Group Hall of Fame. Sadly, James passed away in 2023 after a courageous battle with cancer. His legacy of storytelling and excellence continues to inspire us all.

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