Panama City Beach, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – Cones, construction and chaos. That’s how most people describe the past year for the Highway 79 and Front Beach Road detour project. But NewsChannel 7 learned last month that the project was put on “pause” for six months to add more water to the contract.
“It’s really hurting business,” said Gerald Yarborough, general manager of Sandbar Seafood & BBQ.
Places like Sandbar Seafood & BBQ have more than halved lunchtime business due to ongoing construction. Employees say business is night and day different from a year ago.
“So the numbers aren’t here, so we’re going to close Monday-Thursday morning,” Yarbarrow said.
Across the street, Domino’s Pizza faced another traffic problem.
“We’ve had some problems in the parking lot, with people trying to get in and out safely. Anytime we bring a customer in here, they tend to ask which way we can go,” said Domino’s Pizza General Manager Brittany Davidson.
But getting customers in matters in more ways than one.
“When you try to search for us on things like Google, it redirects you saying this area is closed,” Davidson said.
It all leads to seemingly empty parking lots and empty restaurant tables. Business management tells you that it affects more than just the face of the business, but its employees.
“People with families, young moms and dads with families and young women going to school used to set aside hours where you could get them, but we don’t have those hours anymore,” Yarborough said.
But with fewer or no hours, employees are choosing to remain optimistic moving forward.
“Put your best foot forward and do your best. Take your bad situation and try to turn it around,” Davidson said.
The project is now expected to be completed in December 2023 instead of June 2023, according to city officials.
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