Restaurant industry looking forward to 18+ vaccine eligibility, hoping it makes customers and staff

Jacksonville, FL. — Local families and hard working Floridians will be able to feel a bit more comfortable while dining out soon. With the vaccine age eligibility changing to 18+ in just 10 days, Action News Jax has learned just how much this is going to help businesses, specifically restaurants, all around.

The owner of Angie’s Subs told us within the last 3-4 months, they’ve seen a positive trend in sales and they’re just about back to normal.

As restaurants have been some of the hardest hit by this pandemic and struggled greatly throughout the last year. They’re hoping with more vaccines available to the public, it’ll make employees more comfortable and get people back to work.

“Angie’s can get packed, busy, so it’s hard to control the cattle when they start coming in so the employees have been a little hesitant,” Ed Malin said.

Malin says being short-staffed has been an ongoing issue the past year, but with the window of 18+ being eligible for vaccines beginning on April 5, it makes his employees more comfortable.

“Now they can go get the vaccine, I think they will be much more eager to come back and work, work full time, work on the weekends, things like that,” he said.

Throughout this pandemic, Action News Jax has learned over 10,000 restaurants in Florida have closed their doors.

Nicole Chapman with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging association says the beauty of the age drop welcomes both more customers and staff and it’s important to put out a good product on a day to day basis.

“It’s really hard when you have a really busy day and you’re understaffed to make sure those customers are happy their dining out and they’re not waiting 45 minutes for a meal,” she said. “So finding that equal right now is challenging.”

According to the CDC, just over 5.5 million people ages 18 and up in Florida have received at least one dose of the vaccine. While Malin said he’s expecting a great spring season, his main goal is to keep employees on the clock.

“I got 10 of them that count on that paycheck the rest of them are part time students so it didn’t affect them as much,” Malin said. “To see my employees not be able to work to see them and their paychecks getting cut in half, it’s hard as an employee because my employees are the heart and soul of my business.”

Malin told Action News Jax the business was touch and go for a while and the first few months were a challenge, but the more vaccines the better when it comes to saving the industry.