Pinellas restaurants aim to get boost by giving break to first responders

Amplify Clearwater’s “Attitude of Gratitude — Fueling the Frontline” program hopes to accomplish two goals: direct revenue to idle restaurants while at the same time feeding emergency medics, law enforcement officers, nurses, physicians, and other first responders.

CLEARWATER — Local restaurants have found a way to generate revenue while feeding first responders and the poor during the coronavirus outbreak.

First, Amplify Clearwater Chamber of Commerce launched a program March 24 to generate business for eateries that have lost revenue during the state ban on sit-down meals.

Amplify Clearwater’s “Attitude of Gratitude — Fueling the Frontline” program accomplishes two goals: direct revenue to idle restaurants while at the same time feeding emergency medics, law enforcement officers, nurses, physicians, and other first responders.

“We are coordinating with restaurants to provide meals for the people on the frontlines in Clearwater and surrounding areas, with the program purchasing meals from restaurants through community contributions,” said Amanda Payne, Amplify CEO.

As of Wednesday morning, locals had provided $30, $50 and $100 donations, raising $970, according to the program’s GoFundMe page.

According to Payne, the proceeds will go toward the cost of providing meals to those serving on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus.

“A huge thank you to Clearwater Gas System and ProVise Management Group for kicking off this effort,” she said.

The program is based on the chamber’s Attitude of Gratitude program before each hurricane season.

“Our local restaurants are also an important part of our community, often donating time, efforts and resources to a variety of causes that we are passionate about,” Payne said. “This is an excellent way to help them while also saying thank you by providing a meal to those risking their health to help others.”

Chamber staff met last week to confront the shuttering of sit-down restaurants.

“We have heard from many in our community that want to help,” Payne said. “Social distancing doesn’t allow for traditional volunteer opportunities.”

Marvin Pettingill, deputy chief for Clearwater Fire and Rescue, was modest about the work he and the city’s first responders perform.

“We definitely appreciate the kind offer and are lifted by the public’s support,” Pettingill said, “but this is what we’re supposed to be doing, it’s part of our job.”

Clearwater’s fire stations, which are usually open so neighbors and other residents can drop by and say hello, are closed to visitors to reduce the spread of coronavirus. That can make it harder to have food delivered or to head out and get a meal.

If you are a restaurant interested in participating, contact Sydney Marks at sydney@amplifyclearwater.com or call him at 727-447-7600.

Over on Indian Rocks Beach, restaurants are offering first responders 50% off their meals starting at 4 p.m. each day.

Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered restaurants closed on March 17, limiting restaurants to delivery and curbside pickup operations, so Guppy's on the Beach at 1701 Gulf Blvd. in Indian Rocks Beach and E&E's Stakeout Grill at 100 Indian Rocks Road are charging only half price to doctors, nurses, police, emergency medical technicians, and other first responders. Those customers will receive discounts with identification.

“Starting Monday, March 30, customers can phone their orders in as early as 2 p.m. daily,” said Allen Jernigan, marketing director for the restaurants. “These people are out there in the middle of this pandemic exposing themselves to the danger. They are amazingly courageous.”

The restaurants are co-owned by Owned by Eugen Fuhrmann and Erwin Scheuringer. Scott Bebell is a co-owner of Guppy's on the Beach.

Guppy’s curbside pickup is from 4 to 7 p.m. daily; call 727-593-2032. The E&E Stakeout Grill curbside pickup is 4 to 8 p.m. daily; call 727-585-6399.

The owners are also offering $100 gift cards for sale to customers, $20 of which will go to the Salvation Army’s mission to help the less fortunate in Pinellas County, Jernigan said.