Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
"We went from going 100 miles an hour down to zero," said Chivas, who owns the Baystar Restaurant Group in Pinellas County. He added that when the restrictions were imposed, he was stuck with 10,000 pounds of boxed beef in the process of being aged for culinary purposes. At the same time, his fleet was bringing in loads of fish for what is usually a hyper-busy Spring season.
"We had to do something with all that product," he said. "And what we did was we opened fresh markets in four of our restaurants, and it's been incredible the response we've gotten from our community."
Chivas said that since the lockdowns have closed restaurant dining rooms, he has purchased a fleet of vehicles and now offers curbside, dockside and delivery options.
However, Chivas said the news was not all good thanks to a now-infamous provision in the CARES Act that enables some workers to make more money claiming unemployment than they would at their regular jobs.
"I've got dishwashers [and] I've got servers that are making $300, they're getting $600 from the federal government. They're going for the unemployment," he said.
"We furloughed [other employees] and now we have them working back [but] some of them took unemployment," he added.
Looking to the future, Chivas told host Tucker Carlson that he believes his business will survive the economic contraction, but added that life will be different under long-term social distancing orders that reduce the number of people allowed in a restaurant.
"[W]e are not going to fail. We are not going to give up. We are going to fight. We are going to listen to the professionals in the business and we are going to do whatever it takes and our community is very supportive of us," he said.
"And by the way, we live in probably one of the best tourist areas in America right now," he continued, predicting that coastal Florida will likely see an influx of visitors when cabin-fever-afflicted Americans are finally let out of their homes.