Key West Restaurants announced on Wednesday that all of its restaurants will reopen this summer after the city shut down in mid-May, despite a storm that slammed the area and forced the closure of many of its hotels.
Key West, which has been in the news for several years for an array of scandals including the alleged use of a slave labor camp, the alleged sexual abuse of children by staff members and the hiring of a convicted child rapist, opened a total of 34 restaurants across the city, which is now reeling from the storm and its aftermath.
The city’s shuttering was a result of a federal lawsuit filed by the restaurant industry, which accused the city of discriminating against the food service industry in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech.
Key West is one of several restaurants that have faced the threat of closure for the last several years.
The restaurant industry’s lawsuit alleged that the city’s policies were discriminatory and that the restaurants discriminated against minorities, the disabled, seniors, students and the poor, among other groups.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York.
The restaurants reopen in midseason and will be open to the public during their first week of operations, the company said.
They will be subject to additional inspections, and the city will not be able to reopen until they complete their inspections.
The company’s CEO, John DeBruin, told reporters that the company has a strong commitment to its customers and its workers, adding that he believes that the closure will not impact their quality of life.
“Our commitment to our customers and our workers is as strong as ever, and we have no doubt that our employees will be able and proud to reopen their restaurants and continue to serve our customers,” he said.
DeBruis comments came after he told the Associated Press that he is not worried about the possibility that the shuttering will have a negative impact on his company.
He said the city and its attorneys have not contacted him regarding any potential legal ramifications.
He added that the decision was made without consultation with the owners of the restaurants.
“It’s very important that we take advantage of this opportunity to rebuild our community,” DeBris said.