Holmes Beach restaurant says business is booming since requiring diners to be vaccinated

Beach Bistro on Holmes Beach in Anna Maria Island now requires diners to be vaccinated, adding to its "aggressive" safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19

The restaurant's owners say Beach Bistro is the "safest restaurant in America."

Beach Bistro owners Sean Murphy and Susan Timmins say all of their staff are vaccinated and customers should be, too. 

The bistro began adding layers of protection against the novel coronavirus last summer with an air purification system, which took six months of HVAC system upgrades to install. The system includes HEPA filtration, ionization, and ultraviolet light to scrub any virus from the air.

"My job is to make sure this space is as safe as I can make it, we did it with the HVAC system, we did it by getting everybody tested, we did it by getting everybody vaccinated, and now we’re asking the patrons to be vaccinated," Murphy said.

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The bistro has also required continual testing of staff for COVID-19, starting last year. In April 2021, the testing team switched its efforts to vaccination.

Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Friday prohibiting businesses from requiring proof of vaccine. Murphy says he’s not violating that.

"Mr. DeSantis requires that, we’re not allowed to ask people for proof of vaccination. We don’t. If you call here and ask for a reservation, we’re going to ask you if you’re vaccinated, and if you say you are, then we’re going to give you a reservation," he explained. "If they’re not then we’re going to suggest you call back after you have had the vaccination, so if you haven’t had a vaccination, we don’t want you to come here." 

Diners in the restaurant Friday night said they were asked if they had the shot and they felt more comfortable dining there because of that.

Murphy says business is booming.