“What are you doing during this pandemic? Isn’t it pretty rough there in Florida? How is it when you are going out?”
Those are the questions I get from friends and relatives from across the country when they recall that I live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My basic response is, “I’m doing what we all should be doing, staying home most of the time, but when the time comes, I’m paying attention to my surroundings and being safe. What more should I be doing?”
But how is it really down here? Fort Lauderdale has a great many options during these times to keep its residents and visitors safe, sound, secure, and enjoying the Greater Fort Lauderdale region. Here are just a few that I have enjoyed and will enjoy in the future.
Breweries of Greater Fort Lauderdale
If you have not gotten your drink on during the pandemic, what are you waiting for!?! When I travel to a new city, I always pick up a pint glass from a brewery or three that I visit. Fortunately for me and my collection, I’ve been able to turn the hunt for souvenirs to my home town as Fort Lauderdale has some amazing breweries. Over the past 6 months, I’ve started ticking off locations on the Greater Fort Lauderdale Ale Trail. With well over 40 different options highlighted on the on the Ale Trail map, you have plenty of options to spread out over the whole year if you’re a local or if you’re a visitor over many visits.
Nothing goes better with a warm, sunny day than a cold beer, especially a craft brew from one of Greater Fort Lauderdale’s many fine breweries. Craft beer occupies a popular niche in the social scene here, so you won’t have to stray far to find that frosty glass you’ve been craving. Take your pick among nanobreweries, industrial microbreweries, beer gardens and brewpubs. – www.sunny.org
One that is not on the map is a little bit above the Greater Fort Lauderdale Area, but in a time where short little road trips have become a saving grace, put Hopportunities up in Delray Beach on your own map. This cute and vibrant offering gives beer novices and experts the chance to pour your own, as much, as little as you wish. It’s a great chance to try out so many different options, which is great for some that don’t know what kind of beers they like.
Old and New Restaurants
What I’ve said before is if it looks too full, don’t go in. When doing the Ale Trail, we kept that in mind and if the parking lot looked too full or there wasn’t enough space inside where you felt safe, we didn’t stay or even attempt to go in. Most places are doing the best they can with requiring masks and doing limited seating (even if the Florida Governor acts like COVID is not an extreme thing currently in his state).
Smart business people know that they need to try different things to draw people in and keep them safe. Just steps from Hopportunities was Brule Bistro. My brother and I stopped in at Brule and the special that day was 20% off the bill, the whole bill, even the alcohol. Well, that made us spend probably 30% more, but was well worth it and one of the best meals I have had during this whole thing. You can find many deals like this across Greater Fort Lauderdale. Seating was spread out, although the bartender had a chin diaper on the whole time. Fortunately, our wine came from someone who was wearing their mask efficiently.
If you have been to Wilton Manors and visited bars and restaurants on “The Drive” over the years, you would have seen some turnover, businesses coming and going, restaurants changing names, etc. What is great is that, even during these times, “The Drive” has new places coming in and doing well.
Wilton Manors has great bars and restaurants that are rolling with the punches of 2020 and 2021. The South Florida Gay News recently shared Coping with COVID: Wilton Manors Restaurants Adapt to Survive.
Michael Connell, co-owner of The Pub, reports … “Outside sidewalk and back patio seating have become very popular since reopening. Daytime customers request outside seating nearly 50% of the time depending on weather conditions. In the evening, our outside seating is preferred by about one-third of our customers.”
Glen Weinzimer, co-owner of Bona Italian Restaurant reports that carry-out and delivery now account for 40% of his business, as opposed to 25% pre-COVID. Although Bona has limited outdoor dining capacity, Weinzimer feels that it allows customers who are not ready to dine-in to have a feeling of safety. Even through the struggles, Bona maintained its Give Back Monday program, which gives 10% of the house back to local non-profits. – SouthFloridaGayNews
Head over to SFGN.com where they talk with other restaurant representatives about how they used SBA, PPP, and other loans and fundraisers to make it through, keep staff, and even hire new staff.
A new bar/restaurant option? I will admit that I have not visited this new addition, Tulio’s Tacos and Tequila Bar, but if the spot’s name alone didn’t make your mouth water, then head over to its website or Instagram and see if its offerings do so. Since tequila is my drink of choice, I feel I will be visiting soon. Stay tuned for a review.
And if you are planning ahead, you can keep abreast of what is going on “On the Drive” by heading over to a couple of Facebook groups, What’s Happening on The Drive Wilton Manors , Wilton Manors , Wilton Manors. Just like any other groups, you’ll have the Gladys Kravitz, bitter people, and that realtor that makes a post a day trying to sell houses, so take what they say with a grain of salt. One activity the Gladysysysyses complained about so much was the widening of sidewalks along “The Drive.” It was more about the length of time and the slowness of trees being planted, but now, “The Drive” is in good shape, especially those businesses that have monopolized on the outdoor seating and dining on this newly added frontage. Good job Wilton Manors for being ahead of the game and making those changes when you did.
There’s Still Drag
TBH, I have not desired to be inside for a show since the pandemic started. That is just me. I know the ladies need to make their dough, but we as well need to do what we feel is right for us. Many bars have had drag shows, many happening outside. Others are offering some nights and even full days of 2-4-1 (buy two drinks for the price of one), but I am not comfortable trying to get people to come to one bar over another, or offering deals to get people to reconsider staying home or going out. I feel that those that are going out are … well … going out already. Let the chips fall where they may.
But the drag outside idea I think is a good one and I may be enticed to attend an event coming up in February.
Have no fear, because 2021 is here! Join Bianca Del Rio and the super queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race in their mission to save us from “2020”. You can expect jumbotron LED screens which the show will be broadcasted onto, a concert quality light show, outdoor and FM sound, gourmet food trucks and one hell of a good time. Suit up, find your sidekick and get ready to Drive ’N Drag into the new year!
With a cast of girls like Aquaria, Asia O’Hara, Bianca Del Rio, Kameron Michaels, Naomi Smalls, Plastique Tiara, Violet Chachki, it sounds like it will be a great time!
Fort Lauderdale – Keeping it Safe, Fun, and Multifarious
During these past 10 months, I’ve become an even bigger fan of Greater Fort Lauderdale. No, I’m not grateful COVID happened and that travel options have lessened, but the reorganization of our lives we all had to do in 2020 gave me the opportunity to look more toward local options for fun, excitement, diversity, and new things, all with the mask and sanitizer close at hand.
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