While many of the businesses throughout the county managed to reopen shortly after Hurricane Michael hit Oct. 10, several have not, including one in Eastpoint that was completely wiped out.
The Pesky Pelican, at 414 US-98, was taken out by the storm, but owner Jewell Still has already made plans to rebuild, at a different location.
“It was completely leveled, completely gone,” she said. “It was a wood building, an old building. It wasn’t structurally sound, we all knew that.”
The location had seating for a maximum of 70, with about 25 seats outside on the back porch. “I guess it’s just under that dock out there now,” said Still.
She employed eight fulltime people, and five part-time, and they have obtained unemployment. “I had a wonderful crew,” said Still. “The employees I gave them all a little bit a gift card right after to sustain them for a week.”
While she had insurance, she said she didn’t get very far with FEMA because she hasn’t been profitable thus far.
“I’d only been in business a while, Nov. 1 would have been two years,” Still said. “I had a good business but you don’t make money in the first few years. They didn’t feel I was worthy of a loan.
“I’ll survive, I’m a fighter,” she said.
Still said she’s looked for other existing space but it wasn’t a fruitful search. “I tried to get buildings and there’s none available. It seems like everything along the bay or along 98 they’re condemned. If it is salvageable they want so much for it.”
Help came from the owners of Coastline RV Resort & Campground, who offered her space to put up a mobile concessions trailer.
“Chester and Garrett Creamer are going to build a pavilion and fix it up. They’re going to put me back in business. They’re helping me a lot,” said Still. “We won’t have inside seating, they’re going to put in a pavilion with thatched roof, a tiki hut type.”
She’s planning to head to Texas to pick up the concessions unit she just bought, and then set it up, with plans to reopen Pesky Pelican II after the first of the year.
“I’m having one made, a brand new unit,” Still said.
She won’t be able to do prime rib or extensive hot lunches, but she does plan a menu of hamburgers, hot dogs, maybe a mullet dinner one night a week, Still said.
“I’m also having a barbecue being built. I’m going to try to make a dollar,” she said. "I’m going to keep that name, and I hope people recognize it and I hope people will come again."
She said she’s grateful for the support of the community, and wants to be part of a resurgence in Eastpoint.
“If we don’t do something we’re not going to have anybody coming in there,” she said. “I’ll be looking at seeing everybody. So many people in the community have reached out to me.”
Down the street, at Family Coastal Restaurant 500 US-98, owner Roger McKenzie and wife Kim have plans to reopen next spring the restaurant they opened four years ago, after buying the one in Sumatra nine years ago from Diane and Robert Tucker, and then opening a second one in Crawfordville six years ago.
“My birthday is Oct. 10, Hurricane Michael brought me a nice birthday present,” said McKenzie.
The storm damaged the deck, and walk-in cooler and freezer, but there was no major structural damage, he said, just “moderate damage.
“It looked a lot worse than what it turned out to be. When you got in there, it really wasn’t as bad as it could have been,” McKenzie said. “Everything inside of the building was a total loss. That’s minor, just money.”
Lynn's Quality Oysters, a raw bar and restaurant down the street, also sustained damage but employees worked to have it reopened a few weeks after the storm.
David Barber owns the Famiy Coastal building, and he plans to complete the repairs in time for the restaurant to reopen no later than early summer. “We’re hoping early spring of next year,” he said.
He said that at the time of the storm, he had about 15 to 18 employees, and that a couple of them have moved to his other locations, and that his manager Carolyn continues to help out in Eastpoint.
“They said they’d rather work than draw unemployment,” McKenzie said. “It’s key to have employees so when you reopen you have a core group. The last thing I want to do is retrain and hire all new workers.”
McKenzie said his location in Sumatra was down for three weeks. “The power outage was the main culprit there,” he said.
He said the storm also affected the Crawfordville restaurant, as well as a small butcher shop he owns there, but they both reopened within days.
“We took some inventory loss and some economic loss,” he said.
“It slapped me around a little but we’re resilient people,” McKenzie said. “We’ll take it on the chin and keep rocking.
“Only a handful of businesses in Franklin County were shut down,” he said. “Most were able to reopen fairly quickly when the power was restored.”
Among those that remain closed are Boss Oyster Restaurant and Caroline’s Restaurant in Apalachicola, the Rainbow Inn, the Pearle Restaurant in Lanark Village and Harry A’s on St. George Island, but all are expected to reopen in the weeks and months ahead.
“A lot of people reached out to us on social media,” McKenzie said. “It was nice to see the support, the praise, it was really nice to see the amount of people that supported us.”