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Tarpon Springs helps out small businesses with grants

Pinellas County

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. (WFLA) – While many of us are struggling to survive the time set aside to stay at home many businesses are hoping to flat out survive this pandemic. One small town is stepping up, doing what they can to help out the small businesses.

The kitchen at H’ours Creole Smokehouse is still cooking. The owners Doug Clark and Jeff Sussman are hard at work putting meals together for dinner time. There used to be more people in the kitchen.

“What did it look like back there with people in the kitchen compared to today,” asked 8 On Your Side’s Marco Villarreal.

“Empty. Empty,” said Sussman.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced them to shut down their dining area. Chairs stacked up high and plates set for customers that won’t be coming anytime soon.

The restaurant, only open for 7 months, is suffering.

“That’s the part that hurts the most. We put so much money and heart into this building and it’s just sitting there,” said Clark.

Sitting there much like other shops, restaurants, and businesses in the popular tourist destination known for its sponge docks.

“This was about to be our peak season in March. You had Spring Break. You still had some snowbirds here so really this was going to be our busiest season of the year and then it was cut short due to the pandemic,” said Commissioner Connor Donovan with the City of Tarpon Springs.

He thought up the idea to give out $1,000 grants to small businesses. Up to $100,000 out of the city’s emergency reserves.

“Again, a thousand dollars, it’s not a ton of money, but at the end of the day if it helps someone pay an employee, pay a bill, stay in business, stay alive, and get through this it’s worth it,” said Donovan.

The owners at H’ours are grateful. Right now anything helps.

“Obviously it’s going to get better. It has to get better. It can only get better,” said Clark.

The City of Tarpon Springs commissioners will meet next Tuesday and decide whether to extend it’s grant program. They met their quota of restaurants by 2 pm Thursday.

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