2023 Legislative Session Adjourns

The final gavel sounded for the 2023 Legislative Session as the House and Senate adjourned today at 11:00 am. FRLA has been working tirelessly on your behalf during the 2023 Session. We have been successful in advancing policies that will make our industry more successful, like bold tort reform and a reduction of SFS alcohol licensure requirements. We have zealously represented the needs of our industry on significant issues such as E-Verify, Vacation Rentals, and Interchange Fees.

For more details, linked below you will find FRLA’s 2023 Legislative Report for an informative overview on the many issues in which we engaged this session. The Legislative Scorecard provides a snapshot of the results of our key legislative efforts.



MICHELIN Adds 8 New Florida Restaurants to the Guide

2023 Florida MICHELIN Bib Gourmands

Florida just added 8 tasty spots to their selection. The best part? They all offer good food for good value.

Last year, the MICHELIN Guide kicked off their Florida selection with buzzy spots as far north as Orlando (it’s more than just Disney) all the way down to Miami. So in the past 365 days our Inspectors have been hard at work discovering new gems and revisiting old favorites. Next week sees the full Florida selection, including all the distinctions—but below, a sneak peek where we share the 8 new Bib Gourmands.

From feel-good Southern fare sourced locally to Cuban cuisine with flair, here are the new haute boîtes to visit. Just make sure to come back next Thursday, May 11th, for the full list of Florida’s MICHELIN Guide spots. We promise, it’s worth the wait.


Jaguar Sun

Cuisine: Contemporary

The group behind Jaguar Sun has had a busy few years, opening, closing, reconcepting and relocating at various points. Steady, though, is the sheer enthusiasm with which the city has embraced each and every development. Indeed, this local favorite cooks as well as it shakes, offering a winning combination of excellent house-made pastas and balanced, creative cocktails. Warm Parker House rolls and Caesar salads stacked to the sky are opening acts to an umami-packed mushroom tagliatelle or spicy strozzapreti with plump mussels, ‘nduja and breadcrumbs. And to drink? A refreshing Sunday Driver balancing tequila, green apple and manzanilla kicks off the night perfectly. As an added bonus, a warm, personal staff makes everyone feel like a regular.

Cuisine: American

Kudos to husband-and-wife team Chef Akino and Jamila West. What started out as a wildly popular brunch pop-up in Overtown has evolved into this permanent brick-and-mortar in Little River. The outdoor-only space is as breezy as they come with dangling garden lights and ample shade covering an expansive patio. The notably Southern menu covers a generous amount of ground. Deviled eggs with chicharrones, biscuits in guanciale gravy and fluffy banana pancakes with vanilla custard are primo brunch favorites. Heartier hits, like fried hot chicken and waffles or a generous fried fish and grits with collard greens, satiate larger appetites. Tickets to an occasional dinner prix fixe sell out quickly and signal more good things to come from this successful duo.


Isan Zaap

Cuisine: Thai

Orlando’s Thai restaurants typically dole out southern curry dishes and the ubiquitous pad Thai, but Isan Zaap strays from the pack with its gaze trained exclusively on northeast Thai cuisine with Laotian overlaps. There is an impressive level of attention to detail and a nice balance of spice and fermented flavors, and though impeccably executed curry makes an appearance, there’s also an entire section dedicated to som tums that can be topped with fermented crab or fermented pork sausage. House specialties are a hit, as in the unique whole fish larb, cut into bite-sized pieces, tossed with toasted rice powder and fried to a crisp, and crowned with shaved red onion herbs tossed in a sweet yet spicy sauce. For dessert, dig in to durian sticky rice – if you dare.

Cuisine: Japanese

There are just eight seats at this tiny but mighty spot at the Plant Street Market from Chef David Tsan. This is sushi done in a casual “choose your own adventure” style, as guests pick from various cuts of fish and shellfish and then select as either nigiri, sashimi aburi or temaki. It’s all fun and may include winning plates like popcorn hamachi, a surprising dish with avocado puree, dots of whipped cream cheese and finished with popped sorghum. Shima aji displays its buttery best as nigiri, and it’s all about the sear on the avocado served with a sweet kabayaki sauce. Good products and solid techniques are on display in the hand rolls, where fillings like shredded blue crab make an impression.

Can’t choose? The well-priced, ten-piece omakase is a nice option.

Otto’s High Dive

Cuisine: Cuban

This tiny but oh-so-sweet space recalls the charm of Old Florida with its whitewashed brick walls and white tile floors. Billed as a neighborhood rum bar, Otto’s High Dive is on point at every turn, from the genuine service to the unfussy but well-executed food. The kitchen delivers a concise edit of Floridian/Cuban fare with oodles of tropical elements. Begin with oysters before moving on to an array of cold and hot plates ranging from a shrimp cocktail that’s all grown up with its thick “Bloody Mary” sauce to chicken mojo and ropa vieja with sides like rice and beans. Cinnamon bread pudding topped with a delightfully tangy cream cheese whip is a memorable sign-off. Rum is all around, from the Cuba Libre on tap to the daiquiris available by the pitcher.

Taste of Chengdu
Cuisine: Chinese

A long-standing restaurant in the Orlando area, Taste of Chengdu promises exactly that, as the expansive menu is singularly focused on Sichuan specialties. Chef Xiong “Tiger” Tang shows restraint in his use of spices, instead opting for depth and balance; while classics like mapo tofu are given a nuanced nudge. Heat-seekers will want to dig right in to the Sichuan cold noodles, a ramped up iteration that replaces the traditional thick sauce with a lighter vinegar-based, sesame-laced zing. More mellow dishes include a delicate white fish in a green pepper broth mixed with mushrooms, cucumber and baby bok choy, or a sautéed cabbage tossed in touch of oil with garlic and scallions that has just the right amount of crunch.


Gorkhali Kitchen

Cuisine: Nepali

Take the short drive from downtown for a taste of Himalayan cuisine at Gorkhali Kitchen. The mirrored glass exterior means the interior is kept a secret until you’re through the door but come inside to experience this place’s warm hospitality.

The menu is large with a Nepalese focus along with some Indian elements. Of course, there must be momo, those iconic Nepalese dumplings that are seared, pan-fried or even in jhol (soup). Chili momo filled with chicken is tossed in a fiery sauce that’s not for the faint of heart. Sweet at the start, the heat builds and then finishes with a very spicy kick—perfect for heat seekers. Chicken is a popular protein that appears often on the menu, but don’t shy away from the goat specialties. They’re falling-off-the-bone tender and savory.

Cuisine: Greek

Owned and run by second-generation Greek-American, Christina Theofilos, this daytime eatery and bakery epitomizes warmth and comfort. Strangers become friends in no time, noshing on breakfast and lunch during the week and brunch on weekends. The menu is laced with Greek items ranging from flavorful and tender octopus ceviche to house-made dolmades that display an added level of care. The farm to your table sandwich is layered with avocado, pickled green tomato, shaved jicama, sprouts and whipped feta. Of course, with a name that translates to bread, there must be baked goods and you’ll find it all here. Don’t skimp on dessert and order bougatsa, baklava or baklava coffee cake (an impressive marriage of the two).



Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Recognizes Monroe County Hospitality Stars

DUCK KEY – Last week, hundreds from across the regional hospitality industry gathered at Hawks Cay Resort for the inaugural Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) ROSE Awards ceremony to recognize superstars from across Monroe County’s hospitality community.

The ROSE (Recognition of Service Excellence) Awards honor frontline hospitality team members across the region. This year’s event boasted more than 50 nominees from 17 different businesses, and more than 25 outstanding team members were honored with the coveted ROSE Award. From administrative assistants to chefs, housekeeping to transportation, and front desk staff to valet and bellmen, every single position in hospitality is critical to the success of the business in achieving superior guest experiences. The winners each received their award, the coveted ROSE Award pin, and recognition from industry peers and leadership. Middle managers were also recognized for their commitment and hard work throughout the ceremony. Lubos Sarissky from Casa Marina Resort took home the President’s Award, and hospitality icon Sheldon Suga was surprised with the FRLA Lifetime Achievement Award following his recent retirement from Hawks Cay Resort after more than 50 years in various leadership positions in hospitality in the U.S. and around the world.

“It was such an honor to pay tribute to our frontline team members at the beautiful Hawks Cay Resort for this sold-out event,” said Lynne Hernandez, Regional Director for FRLA and the event’s organizer. “We had a wonderful time celebrating and listening to the most inspiring stories of our nominees and winners. Congratulations to all who were recognized, and we look forward to building on this year’s event and returning next year.”

“We are so proud to bring the ROSE Awards to Monroe County for the first time to recognize these amazing hospitality champions,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “For these nominees and winners to serve with such excellence is a testament to their determination and professionalism and shows that they truly love what they do. Ours is the best industry in the state, and the Monroe County ROSE Awards is a wonderful opportunity to shine the light on these outstanding individuals.”

 The 2023 Monroe ROSE Award winners are:

President’s Award: Lubos Sarissky, Casa Marina Resort

Above and Beyond: Jean Antoine, Ocean Reef Club

Administrative Assistant/Support: Judy Burrel, Irish Kevin’s

Bartender / Mixologist – Hotel: Ailton Lopez, Islamorada Resort Collection

Bartender / Mixologist – Restaurant: Michelle Meier, Half Shell Raw Bar

Behind the Scenes: Jayme Wharram, Ocean Reef Club

Beyond the Call of Duty: Sandy Cottrell, Half Shell Raw Bar

Beyond the Call of Duty: Ernsy Simon, Ocean Reef Club

Beyond the Call of Duty: Stephison Foster, Hawks Cay Resort

Culinary Service – Chef / Cook: Juan Gonzalez, Benihana Key West

Customer Service – Airport, Ground, & Water: Captain Mark King, Sole’ Watersports

Customer Service – Attraction/Tourism Business: Ester Porhun, Hawks Cay Resort

Customer Service – Concierge, Recreation, Spa: Edwin “Rolando” Barrera, Little Palm Island Resort

Food & Beverage – Support: Barbara Chavez, Reefhouse Resort & Marina Key Largo

Guest Service – Front Desk, Full-Service Hotel: Patrick Anello, Casa Marina Resort

Guest Service – Front Desk, Select Service Hotel: Marilyn Taylor, La Siesta

Guest Service – Housekeeping, Full-Service Hotel: Gina Luijean, Ocean Reef Club

Guest Service – Housekeeping, Select Service Hotel: Ophelia Brown, Dewey House & La Mer

Guest Service – Maintenance / Engineer: Kendrick Lyons, Hyatt Centric Key West

Guest Service – Valet / Bell Attendant: Jerome Simpson, Ocean Reef Club

Manager Moment – Yadira Perez Gonzalez, Courtyard Faro Blanco Marathon

Manager Moment – Gwen Jeffries, Isla Bella Beach Resort

Server – Restaurant, Independent: Catherine Yager, La Trattoria

Server – Hotel Select Service: Linda Kirk, Little Palm Island Resort

Server – Hotel Full Service: Elizabeth “Liz” Saunders, Hawks Cay Resort

FRLA Lifetime Achievement Award: Sheldon Suga, formerly Hawks Cay Resort


About FRLA: The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality industry trade association. Founded in 1946 as the Florida Restaurant Association, FRLA merged with the Florida Hotel and Motel Association in 2006. FRLA’s more than 10,000 members include independent hoteliers and restaurateurs, household name franchises, theme parks and suppliers. The association’s mission is to protect, educate and promote Florida’s nearly $112 billion hospitality industry which represents 1.5 million employees. Dedicated to safeguarding the needs of the membership, FRLA provides legislative advocacy to ensure the voices of its members are heard and their interests are protected. The association offers regulatory compliance and food safety training through Safe Staff® and FRLA’s subsidiary, RCS Training. The FRLA Educational Foundation provides industry-developed, career-building high school programs throughout the state.


Governor Ron DeSantis Activates the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program – $5 Million Available for Businesses Impacted by Flooding in Southeast Florida

Businesses in Broward County, including sole proprietors, are eligible to apply

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, making $5 million available for businesses impacted by flooding in Southeast Florida. Businesses in Broward County, including sole proprietors, are eligible to apply. Florida’s small business owners in need of assistance are encouraged to visit www.FloridaJobs.org/EBL to apply for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program.

The program, administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), provides short-term, zero-interest loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury or physical damage due to the flooding in Southeast Florida. Interested applicants can apply now through June 19, 2023, or until all available funds are expended.

Eligible small businesses may apply for loans of up to $50,000 through the program. Loans approved through the Emergency Bridge Loan Program are intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a disaster impacts a business and when a business has secured longer term recovery funding, such as federally or commercially available loans, insurance claims, or other resources.

Loans made under this program are short-term, zero-interest, personal loans using State of Florida funds. They are not grants and loans must be repaid by the approved applicant.

DEO administers the Emergency Bridge Loan Program alongside its fiscal administrator, Florida First Capital Finance Corporation.

Visit www.FloridaJobs.org/EBL to learn more about the program, view the lending guidelines and required documentation, and complete an application by the June  19, 2023, deadline. Business owners who need further program information may call 833-832-4494 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time.

Governor DeSantis Declares State of Emergency for Broward County Flooding

Today, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 23-65 (Emergency Management – Broward County Flooding), declaring a state of emergency for Broward County due to severe flooding and rainfall.

On April 12, 2023, wiespread showers and thunderstorms occurred overnight and produced significant rainfall totals, with certain areas of Broward County, including the City of Fort Lauderdale, witnessing heavy rainfall of over 25 inches, in addition to consequential flooding. The rainfall and flooding may continue to impact the operational capability of critical infrastructure, including major state and county roadways, airports, hospitals, schools, and other critical infrastructure throughout Broward County.

A copy of Executive order 23-65 can be found here.



Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association to Recognize Monroe County Frontline Hospitality Employees

~Inaugural ROSE (Recognition of Service Excellence) Awards to honor Monroe County Hospitality & Tourism Stars~



Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association – Monroe Chapter



The Monroe Chapter of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) will host the inaugural ROSE Awards next week to honor outstanding hospitality champions who provide excellent customer service. The ROSE awards are designed to recognize these hardworking individuals and the positive contributions they make to Florida’s hospitality and tourism industries.


Thursday, April 20, 2023

Time: 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.


Hawks Cay Resort

61 Hawks Cay Boulevard

Duck Key, FL 33050


There are more than 50 employee nominees from all hospitality and tourism related businesses in Monroe County. ROSE Award Nominees include the following:

Ashanti Ambrister-Perez, Ocean Reef Club

Patrick Anello, Casa Marina Resort

Antonio Anillo-Sarmiento, Ocean Reef Club

Jean Antoine, Ocean Reef Club

Edwin “Rolando” Barrera, Little Palm Island Resort

Ophelia Brown, Dewey House & La Mer

Judy Burrel, Irish Kevin’s

Barbara Chavez, Reefhouse Resort & Marina Key Largo

Harlie Clark-Keane, Hawks Cay Resort

Ivan Collazos, Ocean Reef Club

Carleene Cook, Southernmost Beach Resorts

Sheila Cordahl, Hawks Cay Resort

Sandy Cottrell, Half Shell Raw Bar

Stephison Foster, Hawks Cay Resort

Kate Garcia, Parrot Key Hotel

Sharon Gardner, Marina Del Mar

Samantha Gibson, Ocean Reef Club

Juan Gonzalez, Benihana Key West

Britt Gordan, La Trattoria

Ryan Hills, Hawks Cay Resort

Gwen Jeffries, Isla Bella Beach Resort

Daniel Jenkins, Reefhouse Resort & Marina Key Largo

Lisa Karasek, Hyatt Centric Key West

Mark King, Sole’ Watersports

Linda Kirk, Little Palm Island Resort

Ailton Lopez, Islamorada Resort Collection

Krystyna Loza, Isla Bella Beach Resort

Gina Luijean, Ocean Reef Club

Kendrick Lyons, Hyatt Centric Key West

Susana Maldonado, Reefhouse Resort & Marina Key Largo

Ricardo Marques, Ocean Reef Club

Joe Meier, Half Shell Raw Bar

Michelle Meier, Half Shell Raw Bar

Melissa Mirocha, Ocean Reef Club

Travis Morgan, Isla Bella Beach Resort

Alison Narvaez, Hyatt Centric Key West

Karolina Naselli, The Marker Resort

Yadira Perez Gonzalez, Courtyard Faro Blanco Resort

Ana Perez Osorto, Reefhouse Resort & Marina Key Largo

Stoyan Petrov, Southernmost Beach Resorts

Ester Porhun, Hawks Cay Resort

Jeanette Rivera, Ocean Reef Club

Marilyn Rosberg, Southernmost Beach Resorts

Lubos Sarissky, Casa Marina Resort

Elizabeth Saunders, Hawks Cay Resort

Ernsy Simon, Ocean Reef Club

Jerome Simpson, Ocean Reef Club

Doug Snyder, Conch Republic Seafood Company

Marilyn Taylor, Islamorada Resort Collection

Joseph Virgilio, Ocean Reef Club

Jayme Wharram, Ocean Reef Club

Debbie Wright, Marathon Yacht Club

Elizabeth Wunsch, Little Palm Island Resort

Catherine Yeager, La Trattoria



More Florida Restaurants Added to Michelin Guide

April 3, 2023

On the heels of new Miami restaurant recognition by Michelin in February, the Guide is now recommending additional restaurants in both Tampa and Orlando. See the full list and links to those announcements below.



Twenty Pho Hour

Victoria & Albert’s



Otto’s High Dive



See the full Orlando write-up here.




Noble Rice

See full Tampa write-up here.

Congratulations to these outstanding establishments on their new recognition by The Michelin Guide. Stay tuned for the full award announcements on May 11, 2023!


Coffee Fest Orlando to Follow Nov 10-11, 2023

ORLANDO, FL, March 20, 2023 – The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, the premier event for Florida’s hospitality industry, owned by Clarion Events and sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association has announced plans to join The Pizza Tomorrow Summit, owned by Grand Slam Events, in a co-location of both events taking place Wednesday, November 8 and Thursday, November 9 at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in Orlando, FL. In addition, Clarion Event’s Coffee Fest Orlando will be held November 10-11, also at the OCCC, providing a week of trade shows and conferences in the Florida marketplace for thousands of movers and shakers in the restaurant, pizza, foodservice, lodging and specialty coffee industries.

“There is undeniable synergy between our two Shows – Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show and Coffee Fest — and Grand Slam Events’ Pizza Tomorrow Summit. We are thrilled to offer industry suppliers unprecedented access to this combined group of highly qualified buyers in what is one of the largest and rapidly growing food and beverage markets in the country. This is a brand-new opportunity for owners and operators to come together, learn, support, connect and be inspired. Attendees will return to their businesses with an even greater array of products, services, and experiences to offer their customers,” said Rita Ugianskis, Vice President, Clarion Events Food & Beverage Group. “Restaurant, pizza, foodservice, specialty coffee and lodging professionals will find a convenient and efficient way to access top subject matter experts addressing key issues in cross over education, see a full range of products from leading vendors, and be inspired and entertained from several exciting special events and competitions.”

“We had a fantastic launch event in 2022 and are beyond excited to welcome The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show which will bring an even broader segment of buyers to our exhibitors, as well as a newly expanded educational program to our attendees,” added Glenn Celentano, Co-Owner, Grand Slam Events, LLC. “The Pizza Tomorrow Summit will once again provide independent pizza operators with an immersive and fun experience, a wide range of products, a robust conference program, plus entertaining and informative pizza competitions and demonstrations. Our attendees will have the
opportunity to explore hundreds of exhibitors and have access to new companies, products, ideas, and initiatives that will help propel our evolving industry into the future.”

“Florida is known for bringing together the best across the food and beverage industries and producing top notch events to build excitement to take our industry to even higher levels of success,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “The creativity and innovation that comes from these events, as well as the connections of consumers, industry professionals, and exhibitors will provide unparalleled opportunities for growth and invention. The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association is thrilled to partner with our long-time partners at Clarion Events, to produce even greater content, attendance, and success for the co-located shows this year.”

FL Restaurant & Lodging Show and Pizza Tomorrow Summit will sit side by side in the same exhibit hall, so registrants will have easy access to both shows. Coffee Fest will offer similar access to its Show which follows. Each show will host their own competitions and demonstration stages. Clarion and Grand Slam events will share education theaters on the show floor and host education together since the needs of both audiences are so similar. Attendees to the FL Restaurant Show and Pizza Summit can also learn about coffee, tea and other specialty beverages by attending Coffee Fest, on November 10-11, enabling them to offer these products to their customers.

For exhibitor information for the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show contact Paul Pedrow at (475) 282-0607 or paul.pedrow@clarionevents.com. For exhibitor information about the Pizza Tomorrow Summit contact Dave Kellogg at 203-788-3794 or david@pizzatomorrow.com. For exhibitor information on Coffee Fest Orlando, contact Anya Falcone at 253-999-5698 or anya.falcone@clarionevents.com.
Grand Slam Events, LLC is a partnership between industry veterans Doug Miller and Glenn Celentano. With an established reputation in the trade show industry that precedes them, Doug and Glenn bring nearly 60 years of experience running large-scale B2B and B2C events around the country. For more information on The Pizza Tomorrow Summit, visit www.pizzatomorrow.com.

The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show and Coffee Fest are owned by Clarion Events Food & Beverage Group and sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association. The Clarion Events Food & Beverage Group also includes the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York, The NGA Show, and the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo. Clarion Events operates over 180 events in 50 countries from 15 offices in the UK, the US, South Africa, Brazil, Germany, Singapore, UAE, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands. Clarion can trace its roots back to 1947 and takes great pride in being one of the oldest independent event organizers in the UK. More recently the firm has developed an international portfolio of brands and now has interests in a number of global vertical industries including energy, security and defense, hospitality, electronics, technology, fashion, retail, gaming and marketing. The teams at Clarion create uniquely effective and stimulating environments that can serve as a platform to build businesses, enhance customer relationships and accelerate product awareness. us.clarionevents.com.

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Florida Mosquito Control Association is 100 Years Strong: Protecting Floridians from the World’s Deadliest Animal – the Mosquito

~March 21 is FMCA’s Day of Advocacy~


Tallahassee, Florida – By bringing together highly-trained professionals from the fields of science, engineering and medicine for 100 years, the Florida Mosquito Control Association (FMCA) has created a collaborative force to control the world’s deadliest animal – the mosquito.

Senator Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) today hosted members of the FMCA at a press conference at the State Capitol, recognizing their integral role in keeping Floridians safe, tourism thriving, and the economy strong.  Joining Senator Boyd were Senator Erin Grall (R-Ft. Pierce), Rep. Tom Fabricio (R-Miami Lakes), and Mary Ann Hooks, Director of Government Affairs, UF- Institute of Food & Agricultural Resources.

“Ensuring the health and well-being of the Florida public is one of FMCA’s top missions, and we can’t thank them enough for everything they do behind the scenes, by air, by boat and on foot to control the population of these disease-carrying insects, “said Senator Boyd.  “They are highly trained, licensed public servants and we know that the state’s two largest business sectors, tourism and agriculture, could not grow without the professional control of mosquitoes.”

Each year during the Legislative Session, FMCA members travel to Tallahassee to advocate on behalf of their work. Members include 15 independent mosquito control districts (MCDs) with constitutionally elected boards that work with the state’s 42 county and municipal mosquito control programs to control the mosquito population in Florida.

For more than 100 years, scientists and entomologists in Florida have worked together to educate the public about the multitude of dangerous diseases that can be transmitted via a mosquito bite – including Zika, West Nile Virus, Chikungunya, as well as Dengue fever.

“Due to Florida’s sub-tropical, and tropical climates, ranging from the Panhandle to the Florida Keys, mosquito control programs work 24/7, 365 days a year,” said FMCA President Sandra Fisher-Grainger. “Mosquito control has become a finely-honed science that includes the use of airplanes, helicopters, drones, natural predators, and impoundments to control outbreaks across the state.”

Florida is ground zero for mosquitoes and the diseases they vector in the continental United States. Florida is also home to more than 80 different species of mosquitoes ranging from the tropical climate of the Keys and South Florida to sub-tropical and more moderate climates in the Panhandle.

“On behalf of the members of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, we thank FMCA’s members for their role in boosting Florida’s economy by allowing millions of tourists to enjoy outdoor activities, including dining, sports, and concerts by keeping the mosquitos at bay,” said Samantha Padgett, Vice President of Government Relations and General Counsel, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

For more than a century, Floridians and our tourists have greatly benefitted from the hundreds of dedicated mosquito control scientists and technicians who work to make life more comfortable and safer from an insect that has plagued mankind for thousands of years and continues to be a growing threat today. Especially in the Florida Keys where the Florida Keys Mosquito Control Districts has been recognized nationally.

“Before 1920, Florida’s development was slow largely because of mosquitoes.  It is well known that these biting and disease carrying pests have slowed progress in most of the tropical and subtropical climates of the world, even still today—but no longer in Florida,” said Commissioner Phil Goodman, Keys Mosquito Control District. “Mosquito control has continually progressed in Florida and is now a very complex and sophisticated science, encompassing elements of every physical and life science while at the same time, protecting our fragile environment.”

“Our district employees around the state are tireless in their work,” said Richard Weaver, FMCA President-elect. “But success is never final. In 2016 the state worked closely with the MCDs and county and municipal mosquito control programs to combat the Aedes aegypti in response to a Zika virus outbreak. This prompt action limited damage to health and businesses. But the Aedes aegypti remains a severe public health threat, responsible for the continued spread of Dengue virus in South Florida.”

According to a 2022 Florida Department of Health Arbovirus Surveillance report  there were several documented cases of Dengue transmissions in Miami-Dade (64), Broward (2) and Collier (1). Additionally, there was also a case in Volusia bringing the total cases to 68. The Florida Department of Health also publishes weekly reports that can be found here.

For tips on what you can do to keep your home and loved ones safe please visit the Florida Department of Health site by clicking here.

To learn more about the FMCA’s 100-year anniversary (1922-2022) please click here for an article by Gordon Patterson.

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces $3 Million to FRLA Disaster Relief Fund

FORT MYERS, Fla. —Today, Governor Ron DeSantis visited Fort Myers to highlight recovery efforts following Hurricane Ian. In the six months since Hurricane Ian made landfall, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has secured nearly $800 million in Public Assistance obligations at record speed, allowing Florida to generate nearly $1 billion in federal resiliency funds. Through Florida’s state-led housing program, 504 households have received travel trailers, outpacing FEMA’s 460 households that received trailers. Additionally, the Governor awarded more than $7 million from the Florida Disaster Fund to support small businesses in Southwest Florida that were affected by the storm. To watch the Governor’s full remarks, click here.

“When Hurricane Ian made landfall, we made a promise that we would be there for impacted Floridians every step of the way through the recovery process,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “After the cameras left and the dust settled, we continued to stand up programs where the federal government dragged its feet and we continued to find ways to support Floridians whose needs did not fit into a specific government program. We are glad to be adding to these efforts with today’s announcements.”

“The Division remains committed to seeing Southwest Florida through the recovery process and making this community whole again,” said Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie. “Governor Ron DeSantis continues to lead the way and empower the Division to cut through unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy.”

The Governor also announced two awards through the Florida Disaster Fund totaling $7 million to support small businesses. The first award of $3 million will go to the nonprofit arm of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association to expand their ability to provide economic relief to hospitality-based businesses that were impacted by the storm. The second award of $4 million will create a new Small Business Recovery Impact program to support additional small businesses outside of the hospitality sector that have been unable to reopen due to lack of capital. Small businesses will be eligible for up to $50,000 grants to support their employees and help to reopen and pay for things like equipment, drywall, and commodities.

In the six months since Hurricane Ian made landfall, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has secured nearly $800 million in Public Assistance obligations. By securing these funds so quickly, we have been able to generate nearly $1 billion in federal resiliency funds. This is the most funding FDEM has ever secured in this time frame and the most ever secured for resiliency funding in such a short time following a disaster for any state-managed hurricane response. The Governor announced that Collier County has been reimbursed $23.2 million for debris removal and emergency protective measures, bringing the total amount reimbursed to local communities to $140 million.

Following Hurricane Ian, a monumental effort was undertaken to clean debris, restore roadways and bridges, and to reconnect power to homes and businesses.

  • Temporary repairs to the Pine Island bridge allowed access to Pine Island to be restored in less than three days.
  • Temporary repairs allowed a one-time convoy of bucket trucks and other equipment, supplies, work crews and emergency response personnel to cross the Sanibel Causeway while more permanent repairs to the causeway could be made.
  • Access to Sanibel Island via the Sanibel Causeway was restored in 15 days.
  • Power was restored to all 2.6 million accounts that were able to safely receive power in under two weeks.

The Governor gave an update on permanent repair progress to the Pine Island bridge and Sanibel Causeway. The Pine Island bridge repairs are expected to be completed by fall of 2023 and are estimated to cost $25 million when completed. Permanent repairs to the Sanibel Causeway will be complete by the end of this year and are estimated to cost a total of $350 million when complete.

Additionally, more than 877,000 cubic yards of debris was removed on land and an additional 491,000 cubic yards of debris was removed from the water. FDEM partnered with local Sheriff and Police departments to utilize sonar technology to identify 5,672 items in the waterways of Charlotte, Collier, and Lee counties. Items ranged from vessels and vehicles to other debris such as appliances.

When the federal government dragged its feet to provide temporary housing trailers and home repairs for impacted Floridians, Florida stepped up to help Floridians in need. Through the Florida State-Led Non-Congregate Sheltering Program, 504 households have received travel trailers in comparison to 460 households that have received trailers from FEMA. The state has also led the Sheltering in Home for Recovery Continuation Program, which provides temporary repairs to homes from Hurricane Ian damage with the support of volunteer organizations and a partnership with Home Depot. Through this program, work orders have been issued to volunteer organizations for 141 projects totaling more than $1.3 million.

The Florida Disaster Fund is the state’s private fund overseen by Volunteer Florida established to provide financial assistance to our communities as they respond to and recover from times of emergency or disaster. In partnership with public, private, and other non-governmental organizations, the Florida Disaster Fund supports response and recovery activities. To contribute, please visit www.FloridaDisasterFund.org or text DISASTER to 20222.


Donations to the Florida Disaster Fund are made to the Volunteer Florida Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and are tax-deductible. Donations may be made by credit card on the secure website www.floridadisasterfund.org or by check to the below address. Checks should be made payable to the Volunteer Florida Foundation and should include “Florida Disaster Fund” in the memo line.


Volunteer Florida Foundation

Attention: Florida Disaster Fund

1545 Raymond Diehl Road Suite 250

Tallahassee, FL 32308