Tampa Bay area businesses rally during coronavirus pandemic

Beginning late last week, we all started experiencing something, together, at the same time.

This is not a story about what could have been done better, but what is being done right. And you can find what’s being done right by looking to local businesses.

We were speaking, in our office, today about how impressed we were with Publix employees—how nice they still are, how calm and seemingly collected—business, as usual, has a calming effect in these uncertain times. While shopping over the past few days, even among the panic-buying and empty shelves, these employees still made shopping a pleasure.

When people joke about the obsession, and love, of Publix here in Florida, now they know that these are the reasons why.

“We’ve ramped up our efforts to best serve our communities during these unparalleled times. Thank you for your patience and understanding if you experience limited inventory or delayed deliveries. As we work around the clock to get product delivered and to restock our shelves, we also want to let you know how much we appreciate the kindness you have shown our tireless associates,” said Maria Brous, director of communications for Publix.

Kahwa Coffee announced it will implement a “takeout only” service model, as a proactive step to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“When you support us by purchasing, in any way, from our stores, gift cards or online you are helping us continue to employ over 130 workers in your community as well as helping us weather this storm to be here for many years to come,” the company said in a statement released Monday.

Robin King, owner of Three Birds Tavern in St. Petersburg, announced on Facebook over the weekend that they would be providing lunch for children out of school if adults came into the restaurant and purchased a meal for themselves.

In the Tampa Bay area, Three Brothers’ New York Pizza locations are offering two free slices for kids every weekday through Friday, March 27. Also, Uber Eats has waived delivery fees for restaurants and patrons, helping out those stuck in the house and those helping us eat.

For those needing child care, Doublemint Sitting shared the extra precautions it is taking. It has plenty of sitters available and has implemented new guidelines for those coming to your homes. For example, it is not allowing nanny bags in the homes and not accepting cash payments.

4th and Vine, a wine shop in St. Petersburg, is offering to run purchases out to the curb. Just call ahead and your purchase will be ready for you when you arrive. There also may be delivery options.

Blanket Tampa Bay is passing hygiene bags and McDonald’s gift cards to the homeless.

MarineMax purchased a digital platform called Boatyard. Their customers don’t have to go in-store to set up their mobile service, shop for boats or chat with a salesperson. It’s the perfect way to get out on the water and avoid crowds. By having better technology, it’s helping customers put theirs down and enjoy family and friends on the water. It’s called the MarineMax App, and you can see a video and photos about the app here.

Mise en Place, for the first time, is offering to deliver food to your home. What a treat in the midst of food-supply fears.

Metropolitan Ministries is moving into phase two of its three-phase emergency response plan. Essential services for families living with the ministries and those the ministries serve in the community will operate differently, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local and state officials:

  • Practicing proper social distancing.
  • Redeployed staff are building food and hygiene boxes in their warehouse.
  • The Family Support Center (map) has moved to a drive-up service model from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday at both the Tampa and Holiday (Pasco) locations.
  • Prepared food boxes and hygiene kits will be distributed to those most in need as available, on a first-come, first-served basis.

> Family Support Center classes and training are suspended until further notice.

> Those needing financial assistance should complete the online form, here. Submit this online form for a future prevention assessment appointment. Those who don’t have access to the internet, call (813) 209-1200. Please note, the link is the preferred method of contact and yields a faster response time.

  • Meal site locations (map) will be open for the time being with to-go style meals and additional precautions in place.
  • Volunteers will practice social distancing and will be limited to 10 individuals.
  • The Metro BrigAIDe mobile street team is still serving at limited locations in the Tampa Bay area with added precautions.


According to a statement from Monica Hernandez, CEO at MAS Global:

One, we are donating to Feeding Tampa Bay, because there are plenty of people in our community that won’t get paid enough if they don’t work and therefore will need help with food

Two, we are making sure that anyone who works for us who is paid by the hour and can’t do their work remotely, will not be financially impacted because of the virus.

Three, we are coming up with a plan to give some of our employee’s gift cards to local small businesses. We have a monthly recognition event for those who demonstrate our MAS Global values, so this could be a nice present for them and help businesses that are being impacted.

We are fully aware this doesn’t touch the iceberg of the overwhelming outpour of community support coming at this time. So please, send us all the positive things you’re seeing from businesses and we will keep you updated, smiling and hopefully making a difference for this great region!

Stay positive, stay healthy and above all else, stay kind.

Bridgette Bello is the publisher and CEO of TBBW and its digital media.



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