ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Two popular restaurants and bars closed its doors for good; Scalett O'Hara's and Dos Gatos. For Scarlett, that business has been around for more than 50 years. The business braved hurricanes and strived to stay open during the beginning of the pandemic. There is a letter posted on the restaurant's front gate, explaining why the businesses are closing.
It reads in part, "Skyrocketing costs, the pandemic's lingering affect on tourism and the natural change guests' taste have won the day."
To Pete Melfi, Scarlett O'Hara consisted of good food, good drinks and good company. He used to host trivia game nights there in 2019. He described the business as one of the staples in the city.
"You missed out on meeting a lot of cool locals because it was such an awesome locals-hang for a long time and then you just missed a lot of fun," Melfi said.
On the corner of Hypolita and Cordova, sits an empty business. The lights and TVs are off, the chairs are stacked and not a customer was in sight. Melfi said he's lived in St. Augustine for all of his life. He recalled how there was traffic on the street every night. He said the place was alive.
"It's definitely strange to see it like this," Melfi said.
The owners posted on Facebook they reached out to other restaurants to help find employees other jobs.
There were 11 employees at Dos Gatos and 22 employees at Scarlett’s.
The investors say they ultimately chose to close the restaurants because they “could not secure a more reasonable long-term lease” from the owners of the building. She confirmed for me the owner is John Arbizanni.
The restaurants say they were feeling the impacts of the economy, but the final decision to close boiled down to the lease situation.
“We were still profitable until the last month or so.”