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Staffing shortage keeps new Stuart cafe closed

Published: Jun. 16, 2021 at 10:46 PM EDT
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Out with the old and in with the new.

A longtime landmark in Stuart has been torn down and now in its place is a new county-run cafe, but Martin County is working to overcome a major hurdle so it can open.

As the doors pull open, the view from the bar is like a picture of paradise. Even on a gloomy day, the calm ocean washes ashore and leads you up a path to the hidden gem at Stuart Beach.

"Just step-by-step I saw the whole thing come together," said Lonnie Campbell, as he was getting ready to step onto the beach.

Campbell has watched the Seaside Cafe take shape over the past year. It's a new eatery, steps from the sand that will serve food and alcoholic drinks.

"It's low-key and everything is nice about it, it's beautiful," said Campbell, as he looked around at the purple walls, blue roof, and wooden bar.

Martin County demolished the old and deteriorating Chef Shack that stood in nearly the same spot for years and invested more than $2 million by building the new colorful cafe.

"We did a parking lot reconstruction, we added more parking spaces, we added more boardwalks and dune cross-overs as well," said Kevin Abbate, the Parks and Recreation Direction for Martin County.

Abbate said the idea is for the cafe to be an economic driver for the county and a family-friendly spot for locals. Construction is done, but the cafe has been sitting empty for weeks. The main problem is there are not enough employees to staff it.

“It’s been a struggle, I’ll admit over the last 60 days,” said Abbate.

Abbate told WFLX the county has created a new student position, so anyone 14 and older is encouraged to apply.

"I want to be open, and we want to be open more than anybody and we're trying to push the envelope with new employees trying to incentivize them to come work for us because it's such a great place to work," Abbate said.

The county is offering nine different incentives for future employees at the Seaside Cafe in Stuart, the Sand Dune Cafe in Jensen Beach, and the Sailfish Sands Golf Course:

  • 25% off Food and Beverage at Sand Dune Cafe, Seaside Cafe and Sailfish Splash Waterpark
  • 4 waterpark passes for Sailfish Splash Waterpark
  • Lap Pool Pass
  • 2 Chairs and 1 Umbrella rental membership (any cafe)
  • Unlimited range balls - Toptracer Range at Sailfish Sands Golf Course
  • 2 rounds of golf per week at Sailfish Sands Golf Course (during non-peak hours)
  • 2 Adventure Tent rentals at Phipps Park
  • Beach Fire permit
  • Advanced reservation of any pavilion countywide

"You always want to be a part of something when it starts to say hey, I was there when it opened and I was the first one working there," Campbell said.

Depending on your age, the hourly rate for workers ranges from $9 to $15. If you would like to apply, click here.

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