TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) – As many cities continue to see small businesses close due to the challenges of COVID-19, Tybee Island’s Main Street says it’s seeing the opposite.
Although many of Tybee’s small businesses struggled through spring break when many people were staying at home, it looks like many are doing well. And more small businesses could be coming to the island.
Tybee Island’s Main Street Program says business is booming. Director Michelle Owens says the COVID-19 pandemic has only brought more vacationers to the island, probably because the beach is a convenient way to get out of the house and social distance yourself from others.
Over the last few months, Owens says she’s received inquiries from all over asking about how to open a small business near the beach.
Right now, there’s a new seafood restaurant called Pier 16 that’s being built on the south end of the island near Tybrisa Street and Butler Avenue. It looks like the restaurant might even include some rooftop dining.
Owens says in addition to the new seafood restaurant, a new frozen yogurt shop is also in the works, as well as a revamped gastropub and another restaurant.
Entrepreneurs like Tybee City Council members John Branigin and Micheal “Spec” Hosti are opening a new restaurant on Tybee. The new owners bought the former 80 East Gastropub and promise good food, a great atmosphere, and, most importantly, keeping it local.
“The owner of the building had opportunities to lease to out of state people and he didn’t want to do that. So, we are happy that he was supportive in our effort,” said John Branigin, new restaurant co-owner.
Some other business inquiries that Main Street has received include a coastal living home decor shop and a food boat.
“People notice that we are a destination even during this pandemic. We’ve received multiple calls from people who are interested in starting a business, everything from food trucks to brick and mortar stores,” said Owens.
With around 99-percent of the island’s businesses being locally owned, Owens says they’re excited to see more residents becoming small business owners.