Episode 16: Independence Day

 

As the United States marks Independence Day, COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket. Florida is one of the worst states in the country for the spread of the disease, which is taking an ever greater toll on the service industry in the hospitality capital of Orlando. Many workers are getting sick, even as bars remain closed indefinitely to on-premises drink service. Restaurants are still open, but some employees are becoming more reluctant to trade their safety for a paycheck, despite dwindling unemployment benefits for those who were able to access them in the first place.

Thanks to Orlando composer Julian Bond for providing original music for UnWineding, Amy Tardif for editorial guidance, and WMFE for distribution and promotional assistance.

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Episode 15: Rolling Back

 

Just three weeks after Florida’s bars were allowed to start pouring drinks again, the state reinstated its ban on alcohol service onsite. The announcement came minutes after Florida reported almost 9,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day. In Orlando, like elsewhere in the state, some bars and restaurants had voluntarily returned to retail and takeout service only, while others seemed to ignore capacity and social distancing rules entirely. Meanwhile, the choice between health and finances is becoming even more stark, with unemployment beginning to run out for food and beverage employees as coronavirus infections continue to soar.

Thanks to Orlando composer Julian Bond for providing original music for UnWineding, Amy Tardif for editorial guidance, and WMFE for distribution and promotional assistance.

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Florida halts onsite service at bars again, as COVID-19 numbers soar

Three weeks after Florida bars were allowed to emerge from an eleven-week ban on onsite alcohol service, the state has clamped down again.

“Effective immediately, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is suspending on premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide,” read a Tweet from the department’s Secretary Halsey Beshears that was echoed by the agency’s official Twitter account.

The announcement came minutes after the state reported 8,942 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, far surpassing the previous daily record of 5,508 set on Tuesday.

Continue reading “Florida halts onsite service at bars again, as COVID-19 numbers soar”

BREAKING: Orlando’s Swirlery & Digress make changes as COVID-19 cases spike

Swirlery Wine Bar in Orlando’s SoDo district will stop serving drinks onsite and return to retail-only operations immediately because of the “unfortunate significant rise in COVID-19 cases” in Florida.

An announcement on social media Saturday evening said the move was a “precautionary measure” and that “staff have not been involved with recent cases.”

The past week was Florida’s worst for new cases since the start of the pandemic, with the state reporting over 21,000 new infections from last Sunday to today.

Continue reading “BREAKING: Orlando’s Swirlery & Digress make changes as COVID-19 cases spike”

Episode 14: Alarming

 

Florida’s COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed in the two weeks since the the state launched Phase Two of its reopening plan. The number of reported new infections each day has more than tripled, with day after day setting record highs. Residents, businesses, and governments are scrambling to respond. Many bars that were just allowed to start serving again have voluntarily shut down, some because staff or patrons have tested positive. After interviews for this episode were recorded on June 18, Swirlery Wine Bar decided to go back to retail-only in an abundance of caution, and Digress Wine announced a two-day closure after a customer reported COVID symptoms. Also since the recording, Governor Ron DeSantis said the state would ramp up enforcement of social distancing rules at bars, and Orange County, where Orlando is located, issued a mandatory mask order for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, a debate over response to the Black Lives Matter movement is shaking up one of the wine industry’s most venerable organizations.

Thanks to Orlando composer Julian Bond for providing original music for UnWineding, Amy Tardif for editorial guidance, and WMFE for distribution and promotional assistance.

Subscribe to UnWineding on iTunesSpotifyGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

Episode 13: Storm

 

An Orlando wine bar was caught in the path of an EF-1 tornado that tore through part of the city just a day after Florida lifted months of coronavirus restrictions on the state’s bars. The storm felt like a metaphor for life these days, with Black Lives Matter protests continuing, families feeling the strain, and COVID-19 cases on the rise amid Florida’s Phase Two reopening. That reopening is a huge relief for many wine businesses, but the community also got news that one of their own is closing for good.

Thanks to Orlando composer Julian Bond for providing original music for UnWineding, Amy Tardif for editorial guidance, and WMFE for distribution and promotional assistance.

Subscribe to UnWineding on iTunesSpotifyGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

Episode 12: Muted Reopening

 

After two and a half months of coronavirus restrictions, Florida bar owners can finally start serving drinks again, as long as customers are seated at 50% capacity. But in the hospitality capital of Orlando, celebrations are muted, amid days of Black Lives Matter protests and spikes in new COVID-19 cases. Despite the reopening news, many in the food and beverage industry are also learning they may not be going back to work any time soon. 

Thanks to Orlando composer Julian Bond for providing original music for UnWineding, Amy Tardif for editorial guidance, and WMFE for distribution and promotional assistance.

Subscribe to UnWineding on iTunesSpotifyGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

Tim’s Avalon Park will close permanently due to COVID-19

Two years ago, The Wine Bar at Tim’s Wine Market Avalon Park became the first of Tim Varan’s regional constellation of wine shops to venture into the bar business.

Franchise owners Mark and Keisha Hoerrner created a cozy, welcoming spot in downtown Avalon Park, offering flights, wines by the glass, and small plates to complement their retail selection.

Today, the Hoerrners announced on Facebook that Tim’s Avalon would become “another casualty of COVID-19.”

Continue reading “Tim’s Avalon Park will close permanently due to COVID-19”

Orlando wine businesses speak out in support of Black Lives Matter protests

As a self-described dark-skinned woman from Puerto Rico working in the white- and male-dominated wine industry, Mary Montalvo-Weyer says she has felt the sting of discrimination.

“I know what is to be stared at, to feel inferior, to be randomly stopped by police because [of] the car I drive or the way I look,” says Montalvo-Weyer, who owns Luisa’s Cellar in Sanford.

“We stand with our black brothers and sisters because nobody should be afraid of going outside for a walk, nobody should be lynched and murdered in a sidewalk because [of] misconceptions, bigotry and the color of our skin,” she said.

Hers was one of many Orlando-area wine businesses that posted messages of solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters this week for “Blackout Tuesday,” a movement that started in the music industry as a day of mourning and activism in support of protests that have swept the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

Continue reading “Orlando wine businesses speak out in support of Black Lives Matter protests”

BREAKING NEWS: Florida bars can serve again starting Friday

Florida’s beverage industry got the news it’s been waiting for this afternoon.

Eleven weeks after bars were ordered to stop serving drinks in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Governor Ron DeSantis gave them the green light to start pouring again starting this Friday.

His order allows seated service at 50% capacity indoors and unrestricted outdoor seating with social distancing measures. Restaurants will continue to operate under those same rules.

Bars have been restricted to retail-only sales since the restrictions took effect March 17.