It was a busy Tuesday at the Papa John’s Pizza at 5838 State Road 70 E. But it was nothing like Monday, when hundreds of customers lined up at one of the few eateries in Manatee County that was open in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
“When we opened the door at 3 p.m. (Monday), it was like a wave hit me,” pizza maker Liovardo Jaimes said.
The restaurant, which never lost power, filled 223 orders nonstop before closing at 11 p.m., manager Railene Marlow said.
“We didn’t refuse anyone,” she said, adding that customers included neighborhood residents as well as National Guard and Coast Guard personnel.
“We have never seen a day like that,” Marlow said. “People were out of power and this was one of the few places they could get hot food.”
None of the Papa John’s staff working the store Tuesday had power at their home, including Jaimes, Marlow, Jada White and Laura Schilser.
When we opened the door at 3 p.m., it was like a wave hit me.
Pappa John’s pizza maker Liovardo Jaimes
But they all took pride in meeting a need when a pizza seemed like more than just a pizza.
There was also a sense of service at Paradise Bagels, Cafe and Catering, 3210 E. Bay Dr. in Holmes Beach.
A sign outside that said “Yes! We’re Open.”
“We have a generator,” owner Jackie Estes said. “It’s dark but we’re serving customers. We just can’t do some of our extensive menu items.”
Paradise stayed open until Saturday night and re-opened Tuesday.
“I really stayed open for the first responders,” Estes said. “The first responders and the soldiers. I knew they were not going to be able to get a hot meal anywhere else.”
But she also welcomed other customers through the day on Tuesday.
Estes said she would spend 24 hours a day at her restaurant until the power came back on, because her generator was outside.
Motorworks Brewing, 1014 Ninth St. W., reopened Monday, said Barry Elwonger, director of sales and marketing.
“We wanted to give people some place to go with air conditioning and cold drinks,” Elwonger said. “We have had a decent amount of people coming in, including some evacuees from Naples, looking for something to do.”
When Motorworks closed midday Saturday, it was the first time the company had to close its doors since opening Jan. 22, 2014.
The B-Town Coffee Shop, 440 Old Main St., had a similar story.
“We took the plywood down at 7 a.m. Tuesday and had coffee ready seven minutes after 7,” owner Mike Gold said. “Our phone has been buzzing off the hook from customers wanting to know if we are open and if we have Wi-Fi.”
Gold was enjoying seeing his customers again in a cool environment.
“I still have no power at home,” he said.
Most of the 500 employees of Sysco West Coast Florida in Palmetto were back on the job Tuesday, keeping delivery trucks running to serve customers from Brooksville to Marco Island.
The company shut down for just one day, on Sunday, and resumed shipping on Monday.
“We supply anything a hotel restaurant or school would need,” said a representative who asked not to be identified.
“Our goal is to be up and running as soon as possible so we can serve our communities,” she said.
Sysco identifies itself as the largest food service distribution network in the world.
Herald staff writer Marty Clear contributed to this story.