Brightline, Versailles, Cafe Boulud to lay off hundreds in South Florida

During the week that ended on Saturday, over 74K people filed for unemployment in Florida

Brightline, Versaille restaurant, Cafe Boulud
Brightline, Versaille restaurant, Cafe Boulud

Layoffs are spreading across South Florida, as the coronavirus pandemic inflicts damage on nearly every aspect of the region’s economy.

Brightline, the high-speed train service that runs from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, is laying off 250 employees after it suspended operations, according to a spokesperson. The company is a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries, which is backed by the private equity firm Fortress Investment Group.

The high-speed train has spurred major office, retail and residential development near its stations, but has struggled with ridership. The rail service is expected to expand to Orlando, as well as make additional stops in Aventura and Boca Raton. The spokesperson said that the suspension of service has not affected construction of its planned Orlando rail line.

South Florida resorts, hotels, and restaurants are also experiencing layoffs, based on WARN Act notices filed with the state.

This week, Daniel Boulud’s French-American restaurant Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach laid off 99 employees. The restaurant announced on its website that it is closed temporarily. The property at 301 Australian Avenue is near the Brazilian Court Hotel and close to Worth Avenue.

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Isla Bella Beach Resort in Marathon, a 199-room resort at 1 Knights Key Boulevard, Mile Marker 47, also let go of 130 people. And Waterstone Resort & Marina in Boca Raton, a 139-key resort at 999 East Camino Real, laid off 111 people, according to WARN Act notices filed this week.

Companies tied to the Valls family restaurant group, including La Carreta and Versailles in Miami’s Little Havana, are laying off 419 employees. The grocery chain Sedano’s Supermarket has agreed to hire up to 400 full-time and part-time employees laid off from the Valls family’s restaurants, according to the Miami Herald.

Restaurants are struggling to get by, after South Florida counties shut down restaurant dining rooms and bars, only allowing them to stay open for takeout and delivery.

Last week, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties each ordered all non-essential businesses to close. Several cities, including Miami Beach and Miami have issued stay-at-home orders and curfews. On Wednesday night, Miami issued a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, to start Friday night.

Across the country, states have issued shelter-in-place orders, including California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, Massachusetts, Indiana and Delaware.

Unemployment has skyrocketed in Florida and throughout the U.S, due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. In Florida, over 74,000 people filed for unemployment on Saturday, up from 6,463 the previous week. Nationwide, almost 3.3 million people filed unemployment claims, according to data from the Department of Labor.