FRLA Members Join Governor DeSantis’ Re-Open Florida Task Force to Get Florida Safely Back to Work




TALLAHASSEE – More than a dozen members of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) have joined Governor Ron DeSantis’ initiative to re-open Florida’s economy and are participating daily in discussions to get Florida safely back to work. Members were appointed by the Governor to his Re-Open Florida Executive Task Force and the Industry Working Group on Tourism, Construction, Real Estate, Recreation, Retail, and Transportation.

“FRLA and our members are proud to stand with Governor DeSantis to develop and implement strategies that safely re-open our state,” said Carol Dover, President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “Hospitality and tourism are the economic engine of Florida, and it is important that we work together to thoughtfully and carefully re-open, revitalize our industry, get our teams employed again, and bolster our economy. Through his Re-Open Florida Task Force, Governor DeSantis is walking the walk and demonstrating his commitment to the safety of all Floridians, and we applaud him for his leadership.”


FRLA Members Participating on the Task Force include the following:

  • Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Capt. Anderson’s Restaurant and Waterfront Market
  • Josh D’Amaro, President, Walt Disney World Resort
  • John Sprouls, CEO, Universal Orlando Resort, Executive Vice President, Universal Parks & Resorts
  • Eric Silagy, President & CEO, Florida Power & Light Company
  • Sheldon Suga, Chairman, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, and VP/Regional Managing Director. Hawks Cay Resort
  • José Cil, CEO, Restaurant Brands International
  • Tim Petrillo, Co-Founder & CEO, The Restaurant People
  • Monesia Brown, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations, Walmart
  • Blake Casper, CEO, Caspers Company
  • Amy Schwartz, Owner, Bella Bella Restaurant
  • Collier Merrill, President, Merrill Land Company
  • Philip Goldfarb, President & COO, Fontainebleau Miami Beach
  • John Tolbert, President & Managing Director, Boca Resort and Club
  • Dev Motwani, President & CEO, Merrimac Ventures
  • Cody Kahn, Owner, Holiday Inn Resort
  • Gary Lester, Vice President, The Villages for Community Relations


Jose Cil, CEO of Restaurant Brands International, which owns the Burger King®, Tim Hortons® and Popeyes® brands.

“As a native Floridian, I am proud to be a part of the team working with Governor DeSantis and the great state of Florida to re-open the state safely and quickly. We have been adjusting to this new COVID world in all of our restaurants around the US and globally, which uniquely positions us to help Florida citizens and businesses. We and our restaurant operators together have over 750 restaurants in Florida, and 10,000 in the United States, that employ thousands of people. RBI is proud to be a part of the solution to flatten the curve and bring the economy back to where it once was.”

 Sheldon Suga, Chairman of the Board, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association

“I feel very honored to have been appointed by Governor DeSantis to the important working group on the Re-Open Florida Task Force. I know the importance of representing the membership of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and having a strong plan to navigate our way back into running our businesses. Our utmost focus, as always, has to be the safety of our employees and guests.”

Tim Petrillo, Co-Founder & CEO, The Restaurant People

“I would like to thank Governor DeSantis for his leadership during this very trying time. I am pleased to serve on the task force to help get the State open for business. We need to be thoughtful, diligent and thorough as we attempt to give life back to our economy without the putting the health of our citizens at risk.” 

Monesia Brown, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations, Walmart

“It’s an honor to be representing Walmart and our industry on Governor DeSantis’ task force to re-open Florida. Over the last few months, Walmart has supported COVID-19 response efforts on a state and federal level. In Florida, our 380-plus stores and more than 100,000 associates play an important role in our community and we’ve worked hard to support them while they serve our customers during this uncertain time. We look forward to helping the Governor and his team navigate this next phase of response and, eventually, a return to normal.”

Philip Goldfarb, President & COO, Fontainebleau Miami Beach

“I am honored to serve on the Governor’s Re-Open Florida Task Force. Tourism has always been the lifeblood of Florida. It is now more important than ever that we come together and collaborate on a strategic plan to re-open our state in the safest way possible.”

 Collier Merrill, President of Merrill Land Company and President of Great Southern Restaurants

“I applaud Governor DeSantis for his great leadership, support, and guidance during these unprecedented times. As a proud member of FRLA, I am grateful for the association’s excellent job of providing us with resources, advocacy, and constant communication. At Great Southern Restaurants, our main focus is aligned directly with the Governor and FRLA – safety for our employees and the guests we serve as we get back to business. It is so impressive to see all Floridians working together during this difficult time and I look forward to Florida’s renaissance.”

John Tolbert, President & Managing Director, Boca Raton Resort & Club

“It is truly an honor to be part of the Governor’s Re-Open Florida Task Force with so many of my colleagues from the lodging and restaurant industries. This has been an incredibly trying time for all of us, especially in the hospitality and other effected industries, but I’m confident that our best days are ahead of us. We are resilient and although it may take some time, we will come back stronger than ever before, creating new employment opportunities as well as experiences for our members and guests.”

 Dev Motwani, President & CEO, Merrimac Ventures

“I appreciate Governor DeSantis’ leadership and focus on re-opening Florida’s economy in a safe and thoughtful manner, and thank him for giving me and others in the hospitality industry the opportunity to provide input and feedback on how we might reopen our businesses and the economy in such a way.   In the hospitality industry it’s important we ensure a safe environment for both our guests and employees.   That’s why it’s so important we provide our industry insight and experiences to his office as his team focuses on The next phase of getting our economy back open in a way that protects FL residents while getting our employees back to work.”

Amy Schwartz, Owner, Bella Bella

“I am honored for the opportunity to represent independent restaurants and will work diligently for our combined success in re-opening Florida.”

Blake Casper, CEO, Caspers Company

“We are focused on re-opening Florida as safely and quickly as possible. Our hospitality industry looks forward to welcoming back our guests and getting back to work.”


For more information on Governor DeSantis’ Re-Open Florida Task Force, please visit Please visit for additional FRLA COVID-19 industry updates or resources.