September 11, 2019

Many restaurants close throughout September to perform annual maintenance and repairs.

Contributed Many restaurants close throughout September to perform annual maintenance and repairs.

FLORIDA KEYS — Call it “Slowtember.”

The slowdown that swooped in with September has become a well-established trend in the Florida Keys, according to local business leaders. The lighter traffic and emptied restaurants are a result of summer vacationers departing, children returning to school and locals taking a reprieve from the heat.

“The slowdown that we’re seeing now is about the same we see every year,” said Key Largo Chamber of Commerce President Elizabeth Moscynski. “After Labor Day it is slows down and many folks use this opportunity to take a vacation or clean up their business by doing major maintenance. This is the time to get ready for the oncoming season.”

One difference this year, however, was that the threat of Hurricane Dorian robbed Keys merchants of a busy Labor Day holiday, a three-day weekend that is usually a boon for local establishments as mainland Floridians flock to the islands for a little rest and relaxation.

A number of popular Key Largo eateries will take a break this month. Moscynski said the Pilot House Restaurant is closed this week for renovations. Snooks Bayside Restaurant will be closed until Sept. 20, Café Largo will reopen Sept. 26 and the Fish House will reopen Sept. 27.

Judy Hull, executive director of the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce, agreed with Moscynski.

“This is normal for this time of year,” she said, adding that several businesses remain open off-season.

Chef Michael’s, Midway Café, Pierre’s, Morada Bay Beach Café, Meze Morada and Square Grouper will be closed at different times throughout the month of September, according to Hull. Restaurant-goers are advised to call ahead to make sure their favorite dining spot is open.

In Marathon, the Keys Fisheries closed this week for its annual maintenance and repairs. It will reopen Sept. 27.

“This is the chance for business owners to take their overdue vacation,” said Daniel Samess, CEO of the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce. “This year is on par with most, nothing out of the ordinary.”

Castaway Waterfront Restaurant is also closed for the month, among others.

Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce executive director David Turner advises the public to call the chamber to find out which restaurants are closed and which ones are offering off-season specials.

“Square Grouper and Chico’s Cantina are closed, to name a few,” he said. “We do have a few restaurants offering off-season specials that change weekly. The best thing would be to call the chamber and we’ll let you know who is offering what.”

Call the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce at 305-872-2411.