UPDATED Tuesday March 17 4:30pm

Today was the day the other shoe dropped for Orlando’s wine and beverage community.

This morning, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer banned the “sale or distribution” of alcohol for onsite consumption, effective immediately. Soon afterwards, Governor Ron DeSantis ordered bars and nightclubs across the state to close for 30 days, starting at 5pm tonight.

Retail alcohol sales are still allowed, though, and local wine businesses are quickly adapting to the new rules, as well as to new expectations for social distancing.

As of today, Swirlery Wine Bar in SoDo is open for retail sales only. It’s also offering curbside pickup, along with delivery service within its 32806 zip code.

The Parkview in Winter Park is still open and not subject to Orlando’s on-premise ban, but yesterday, the restaurant also began offering curbside pickup of both wine and food, with special sanitizing procedures in place.

“All orders are glove-only handled, and pens sanitized per guest,” according to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “[Wine] bottles will be sanitized and put in a safe sealed plastic bag.”

Steve Butler, owner of Tim’s Wine Market’s Sanford-Lake Mary franchise, wrote in an email to patrons today that while the store is keeping regular hours, he’s happy to offer curbside service for those who may be reluctant to enter.

“Please consider that I have limited staffing,” he wrote, “so be patient if you are calling in.”

In Deland, Cress Restaurant has moved to a takeout only model and is offering 50% off bottles of wine.

Other wine-focused establishments in the area are considering similar moves, in addition to the now-familiar pleas to purchase gift cards to use when the COVID-19 crisis passes.

Change is the Only Constant

After the initial publication of this article, additional wine-focused businesses in the area began to announce modifications and work-arounds.

On Tuesday afternoon, Tim’s Wine Market in Orlando posted on Instagram, asking all customers to call ahead for curbside pickup.

Luisa’s Cellar in Sanford announced it would speed up its planned launch of a series of online wine classes, starting with a free course on Sicilian and Valpolicella wines at 6pm this Saturday, March 21. Participants are encouraged – but not required – to order wines that will be discussed in the class for pickup from Luisa’s ahead of time.

Luisa’s is also reducing its hours, moving to a noon-8pm schedule beginning Wednesday, but the restaurant will add curbside service for lunch, wine, and beer as well as delivery within the Historic Downtown Sanford District.

Orlando’s Quantum Leap Winery will suspend tastings and by-the-glass sales, per the mayor’s order, but it will remain open for retail sales and will offer curbside service. The winery is also offering delivery to select zip codes on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (details at the link above).

Rising Anxiety

Meanwhile, Central Floridians whose livelihoods depend on the wine and restaurant business have taken to social media to vent their anxiety and offer support to one another.

A sommelier laments a 60% cutback in hours.

A Disney restaurant server dreads Friday’s looming resort shutdown.

A wine distributor shares a link to Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program.

And then there’s the meme that has particularly resonated with Orlando’s hospitality workers. It reads as follows:

“Remember when the Titanic was sinking, and the band continued to play? Well, we’re the band.”

 

5 thoughts on “Orlando wine businesses get creative in the face of new COVID-19 restrictions

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