At least everybody had plenty of bottled water.
But maybe they should have thought about having some military- or NASA-style Meals Ready to Eat on hand, too. Or perhaps some people had already consumed their comestible stashes by the time Hurricane Irma passed. Whatever the reason, there were a lot of hungry people looking for someplace to eat Monday afternoon. And the restaurants that were able to open were inundated.
“We haven’t seen that much foot traffic in a long time,” said Ekaterina Coumbaros, co-owner of Taverna Opa at Pointe Orlando. The popular Greek restaurant opened at 5 p.m. Monday and served over 600 people before running out of food five hours later. That, she said Tuesday, is about the volume the restaurant would handle on a normal Friday night.
Of course, this wasn’t a normal night. Beside the heavy walk-in traffic, the restaurant had fewer staff on hand — seven waiters compared to the usual 18 for a busy night. That, of course, meant longer than usual waits, between one and two hours, but most people were patient and grateful for the opportunity for the food.
Not everyone, however. Coumbaros said she received one negative review from a guest who had to wait two hours. (One can only imagine the temperament of such a person.)
Near downtown Orlando, three adjacent businesses on Curry Ford Road were also doing brisk business Monday afternoon. La Fiesta Mexican Grill, Ocean Sun Brewing and Rogue Pub, all in the Winn-Dixie plaza on the corner of Crystal Lake Drive, had full houses of people soaking up the available suds and salsas, not to mention the air conditioning. There was a constant long line of people waiting to get into the Mexican restaurant (none were seen carrying bottled water).
Officially, however, Orlando was under curfew until 6 p.m. Monday. But all three were serving well before that hour — even Winn-Dixie was shuttered (literally). There were plenty of police officers nearby who could have arrested the scofflaws, but most of them were guarding a live downed power line just one block away (which sort of demonstrated the need for the curfew).
“Your beer is good, but not 'break curfew and get arrested’ good,” wrote one commenter on Ocean Sun’s Facebook page after the microbrewer announced it would open at 1 p.m. Monday.
La Fiesta, perhaps responding to complaints, either from law enforcement officials or finger-wagging members of the general public, posted on its Facebook page that it would not “officially” open until the curfew was lifted, even as plates of food were “unofficially” being served hours before 6 p.m. to people alerted by social media posts, word of mouth and other notices that it was open for business. “We apologise [sic] for any confusion or inconvenience that media notifications may have caused in this matter.
None of the three businesses were answering their phones on Tuesday afternoon.
No curfew is in effect for today, though some restaurants may remain closed because of a lack of power, staff or supplies, or a combination of all three.
“We are all ready to go as soon as power is back,” wrote Steve Gunter of Tap Room at Dubsdread to a status request.
“We will be open with partial power at East End Market tomorrow (Wednesday),” wrote a spokesperson for Olde Hearth Bakery. “Many of the other vendors will be closed.”