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Popular Gainesville restaurant uses solar power to get through pandemic

The Gainesville manufactured solar-powered charging station provides power for 24 hours
recurring recording of 5pm newscasts
Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 5:09 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - While the rules are loosening for bars and restaurants in Gainesville, owners are trying new ways to keep business going in the safest way possible.

Technology has seemed to solve many of the COVID-19 obstacles -- especially for Flaco’s Cuban Bakery and restaurant in downtown.

The bakery opened in 2006.

“Basically my parents were in Miami ... my dad was getting older, so they came up here ... and we opened Flaco’s, me and my husband. I was 24. I was still in college ... I was just about to finish ... and then we took off," co-owner Sara Puyana, said.

Since then, they’ve been a local favorite. While the food has stayed as authentic as when it first opened, they have had to make some changes to the business-- many of them in the form of technology.

“I never had a website," Puyana said. "We had a Facebook page but we never had a website ... I did word of mouth as my way to get marketing advertising out of there.”

Now they use technology for almost everything -- they even have their own app.

“We have had to adjust to putting ourselves out there ... we can’t just [use] flyers anymore,” she said with a laugh.

Not only has technology helped to grow their business over the years, but it has helped them through the pandemic too. When they had to take things outside to new outdoor seating, they decided to add a 100% solar-powered energy charging station.

“People love sitting there at night because it lights up on its own," Puyana said.

The restaurant holds several events at night during the weeks-- comedy shows, live music, etc. -- so she said it is nice for people to have a spot where they can charge their phones while enjoying the outdoor atmosphere. The Pure Energy Solar station provides power 24-hours a day-- which is perfect for the late-night spot.

The owner of Pure Energy Solar, Wayne Irwin, said we may soon see several restaurants following in the footsteps of Flaco’s.

“Since the COVID issue has come up," he said, "and so many people have had to deal with it ... a lot of restaurants realize ‘well we need tables with power and lights’ ... so they became very useful.”

Flaco’s will soon be expanding. When they do, Puyana said they have more technological additions in mind. For now, with a little help from technology, Puyana said they’re focusing on one of their most important goals.

“Making life as lovely as it can be during COVID."

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