(Former) New York Entrepreneur Embraces Florida Freedoms | Business Observer

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Buddy Foy is all about Florida.

His conversion began in late 2020 – at first, it was more of an anti-New York thing than a straightforward pro-Florida movement. At the time, a week before Christmas 2020, the famous entrepreneur and restaurant owner opened Chateau Anna Maria in the Waterline Marina Resort on Anna Maria Island.

Star of Food Network’s new Summer Rush TV show, Foy, in a pre-pandemic world, operated Chateau by the Lake, a French-inspired restaurant in upstate Lake George. Then the pandemic, and in particular what Foy sees as arbitrary and capricious rules of catering capacity imposed by then-New York governor Andrew Cuomo, began to crush his business. When indoor dining was banned in New York City, for example, Foy said restaurants were only given 24 hours’ notice to comply. So Foy and his family left for Florida.

In the roughly 12 months since the move, Foy, who already had family in the area including his brother, Keith, became not only a Florida resident but also a Florida fan. “We spend as much time as possible in Florida,” says Foy. “We are now full time residents of Florida. “

“I’m sort of a voice of restaurateurs stuck in Covid states who want to get down to Florida. I have become like the voice of everyone who wants to stay open. Buddy Foy

Foy has retained some of his New York spirit, most notably his accent and fast, frantic pace. But while running a business in the Sunshine State – which he plans to expand in the near future – Foy has found plenty of soul mates: people like him who say they just want the government to leave him alone and put him down. end to changing the mandates and rules of COVID-19.

“I am rightfully blown away by the support we received when we first opened, especially from other restaurant owners,” Foy said, noting that people regularly came to him to ask if he needed any supplies. , contractors or other help.

The first year of operating a restaurant in Florida went well, Foy says, but not without some significant challenges. The two main problems are labor shortages, inflation and the general costs of goods and supplies. On the first, Foy says the staffing situation has been relatively stable. The kitchen? Not really. In the kitchen, he says a few super dedicated chefs are working 80, 90 hours a week, and he’s worried about burnout. “We had a hard time keeping people, especially in the kitchen, where the chefs we work for us,” says Foy.

On inflation and rising costs, Foy has so far resisted rising prices at Chateau Anna Maria to increase margins. But it’s not an eternal decision, he says, if its costs remain high. He says that before the pandemic, food costs were about 20-25% of his overall spending. Over the past year, that figure has risen to almost 40%. “I’m okay with that for a year or two as we work through this tragedy, with the pandemic,” he says. “But I can’t go much further than that. “

Menu prices and labor shortages have exacerbated another problem in the restaurant industry, not just at Foy: customer service. Foy and many other restaurants have been polled on Yelp and other review sites for substandard service, a complete problem when staff are weak. “It was difficult because customers always expect the same kind of customer service before Covid,” Foy said.

To file. Buddy Foy and his wife Jennifer Foy opened Château Anna Maria in December 2020.

With challenges ahead, Foy is not the type to give in under pressure. Its New York location remains open approximately 100 days a year and it continues its expansion plans in Florida for 2022. To that end, a new restaurant under the Chateau brand is expected to open in Sarasota, south of downtown Tamiami. Trail, maybe by March. He had hoped to open the location on December 19, 2021, the first anniversary of the Anna Maria Island spot, but this was delayed by delays in permits and materials. The concept of the Sarasota location will be similar to that of the Anna Maria Island spot: French-inspired cuisine in an elegant atmosphere.

Foy is also moving forward in his new role as Florida cheerleader, particularly for companies in states more prone to issue blocks and warrants. He’s been interviewed on Fox News and other cable companies over 20 times over the past year, where the focus is typically on pandemic policies between New York and Florida. It also has a podcast and radio show that airs Saturdays in the Sarasota-Bradenton area and Sundays in the New York metro area.

“I’m kind of a voice of restaurateurs stuck in Covid states wanting to come to Florida,” Foy says. “I have become like the voice of everyone who wants to stay open. “

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