As Robin Miller fields calls from concerned potential visitors she is more than happy to tell them that the red tide situation has not affected the beaches in Pinellas County or the businesses that call these beaches their home base.
Miller, the President of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce, is very thankful for that.
“We’ve been monitoring it from a business perspective as we would with any event, like a natural disaster,” Miller said. “Even though it’s the slowest time of the year anyway, being the end of summer, but we’re happy to say that it’s business as usual here.”
The highest concentration of red tide sits far south of the Pinellas County beaches and that’s a relief for many of the businesses along Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, St. Pete Beach and north toward Indian Rocks Beach and Clearwater.
Clyde Smith, the General Manager of the Bilmar Beach Resort said it’s just important to make sure that future visitors know the red tide problems are far south of their location along Gulf Boulevard.
“Thankfully the red tide adversely affecting our southern neighbors has not tainted the beautiful beaches of Treasure Island and Pinellas County,” Smith said.“We have had many calls expressing concern but our guests have been thrilled to enjoy the warm weather and cool gulf breezes on our beaches.”
Even with the earlier-than-normal start to the school year, Smith said that business in the resort, at the beach’s cafe and at the restaurant, Sloppy Joe's - Treasure Island, has remained steady.
Smith even had an announcement to make as famed artist Chris Soria has just begun his next wall mural near Sloppy Joe’s. It’s the first site for Soria on the beach. His work can also be seen in St. Petersburg in the Shine District and along 4thStreet.
Business at Sloppy Joe’s on the Beach and the Beach Front Cafe has remained steady even with the early school start date.
“We are thrilled to be the first site on the beach for his amazing art talent,” Smith said. He is doing a dolphin theme and is expected to be done before the end of the month.”
The news is all good in Pinellas County for now and Michael Dema hopes it stays that way. Dema, the Assistant City Attorney for the City of St. Petersburg and a former environmental consultant said that red tide could be considered a natural disaster for those greatly affected and he hopes it wakes up more Floridians to the dangers that environment waste can cause.
“I think sometimes we don’t treat environmental issues with the importance that have until situations like this occur and everyone’s starts panicking,” Dema said. “The bottom line is yes [red tide] affects the gulf and the sea life in the gulf but it also affects businesses and jobs and people who are trying to get by in their everyday lives.”
Dema says that he thinks things should remain stable for now and that’s good news for the are restaurants that source their food locally. He mentions Steve Westpahl, the owner of Parkshore Grill and 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House, as a local business leader that gets supplies for his restaurants through other local businesses.
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“It’s a big deal for our community to stand together,” Dema added. “When things like this happen it brings difficult times for the businesses here and the businesses they need in order to operate."
Miller says she’s thankful that red tide has stayed away but she’s definitely thinking about her neighbors in southwest Florida.
“They are hurting down there,” Miller said. “That’s the area that really needs the light shined on them.”
If you have a local business and have been affected by the red tide, My Area Network wants to help. Register on 727area for a free business page. We're doing the same for our friends in Sarasota, Tampa and the Fort Myers areas that have also been included in this state-wide problem. As always, #EatPrayLoveLocal and support your local businesses!
Pinellas County Business Owners
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Cover Photo from 727area