Fay in Everglades City
Immokalee faces Fay
Tropical Storm Fay - Multimedia
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NAPLES — A rainy, windy day might not be much to celebrate but that’s not stopping Vetta Renzello.
Renzello, who owns Nana Vetta’s Country Diner in Golden Gate, turns 63 Wednesday, thankful that Tropical Storm Fay wasn’t more destructive and thankful for a restaurant full of hungry people who have no electricity.
“It’s a good birthday present,” Renzello said as she greeted breakfast customers this morning. “I’m happy.”
She said a normal Tuesday would mean 50 customers, but Fay brought more than twice that many through her doors, she said.
“The phone’s been ringing off the hook, people asking if we’re open,” Renzello said.
The Kmart on Golden Gate Parkway had power and a flooded parking lot, but a few customers ran in and out for post-storm supplies this morning.
Safe Harbor Drive resident Kevin Hiatt, 43, stopped in for batteries — he had gotten the wrong size Monday — after checking out his rental properties in Golden Gate.
Some businesses lost their biggest customers Tuesday as construction and lawn maintenance workers, 90 percent of 3rd Street Café’s business, stayed home, said owner Bill Salley.
But that didn’t stop the cheerful chef from leaving his house at 5:30 a.m. and opening a half hour later.
He knew the storm wouldn’t pack much of a punch – he’d been through the storm last week in Puerto Rico.
“So I knew it wasn’t bad, it was like an old friend coming back again,” Salley joked.
The storm may have been light by some standards, but Salley didn’t see a single customer for 90 minutes and stayed pretty slow heading into the lunch hour.
About the time Salley left for work Diana Eslick was starting her shift at the 7-Eleven next door, where the closed sign had never gone up.
The assistant manager said she had few customers until about 11 a.m. so she stood at the glass door watching the winds and rain, even witnessing the top of a palm tree fall down across the street. But like the café, her store mainly serves the workers and without their business, the steady afternoon traffic was far lighter than a typical weekday.
One door down, Jeff Robinson opened his store 21⁄2 hours early to fill a very specific need. Olde Naples Surf Shop wasn’t getting much business, Robinson said, except for the kids wanting surfboard wax.
While some businesses were quiet, Fifth Avenue Coffee Co., with its sign that read “Go away Fay! We are still open,” buzzed.
“A lot of people don’t have power and they were happy to see our lights on,” said Carol Flanigan, the shop’s owner and manager.
“I came in around 8,” she said noting she usually shows up around 5:30 a.m. “As soon as I pulled up people were waiting.”
Business was up compared with other rainy days, she said.
Regina’s Ice Cream on Fifth Avenue South opened at its usual time and didn’t see much change in business, said owner Sal Tenaglia.
And The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club had too few cancellations to impact business, said Jim Gunderson, the general manager of the oceanfront hotel. Room service was canceled for the day and the beach bar was closed, but its restaurant HB’s on the Gulf was open. Golf and tennis were also closed. Gunderson said the numbers haven’t been run yet but expects the storm had minimal financial impact.
At Armando Supermarket, off Immokalee Road, Tuesday was business as usual, said owner Marta Rodriguez.
Customers sporadically streamed in and out, picking up extras or just stopping by for their morning Cafecito.
That was the case with Estates resident Jorge Ramos, 43, who made a quick trip to the market with his sons Angel, 10 and Daniel, 9, for coffee and pastries.
“There was a lot of wind in the early morning,” said Ramos, adding that when he left his home, there was a lot of flooding throughout the neighborhood yards and portions of the street. “It was very flooded.”
Meanwhile, next door at Xpress Shipping Station and Cellular, manager Amado Llorens considered closing the business early enough to go home and get the generator running.
“We lost electricity at around 7 a.m.,” said Llorens, who lives near Everglades Boulevard and 50th Avenue NE.
In spite of the power loss at home, Llorens said, his family had been prepared and that he’d opened the store on time at 9 a.m.
However, the rain amount, Llorens said, was more than he expected.
“I hope we got enough rain for a little while,” said Llorens.
Staff writers Katherine Lewis, Elysa M. Batista, Eric Staats and Tara McLaughlin contributed to this story.