Red tide and rain combine for sluggish Labor Day business

Shop owners in Siesta Key are working to draw people back to the beach after weeks of impact from red tide. Labor Day weekend was the first test, but the wet weather didn’t help out. 

Store and restaurant managers said the holiday weekend was a lot slower this year, but they are finally starting to see more sales to make up last month’s losses. Labor Day weekend usually draws big crowds to Siesta Key.

“We have a really fun bar scene with live music every day and every night,” said Stephanie Brown, the general manager at Siesta Key Oyster Bar.

But looking at sales on Monday, store managers saw a dip.

“It was definitely better than all of August, but it was a lot slower than previous years,” said Brown. “For August, we were about 40 percent down in sales, and this weekend it was just about 20, so it definitely improved.”

Daiquiri Deck manager Tim King said business dropped there too.

“I would say 50 percent. Sometimes we can’t tell. Some of our stores are a little busier,” said King. 

They are working to shake off the fears of red tide.  

“It kind of saturated everybody and got them kind of scared to come out. It smells great out here. The water is a little murky here and there. I mean you’re free to go in it,” said King. “It seems to be letting up a little bit more and more each day.”

While many did return to the beach, dark clouds deterred some visitors.

“We definitely noticed people not staying as long,” said King. “I think the storm may have gotten people to leave a little earlier this weekend.”

Business owners do want potential visitors to Siesta Key to take away one thing.

“I would like to them to know that we’re open for business. It’s still an awesome place to be,” said Brown.

Siesta Key restaurant managers said beach conditions are much better, and they also feel their work on social media will help people back to the area.