CRESTVIEW — The town was nearly empty as Hurricane Michael neared landfall, with only the occasional car heading along normally busy State Road 85.
But a few businesses were open Wednesday, including Hub City Smokehouse on Main Street. The restaurant planned to staying open 24 hours through the storm to feed first responders and linemen — and anyone else who was hungry.
“We had a really good turnout throughout the night, and this morning we just got overwhelmed with first responders and some of the public,” owner Mike Carroll said. “We like to give back to the community, and we can’t think of a better way to do it than with our food.
There were about 30 Okaloosa County sheriff’s deputies at the smokehouse just before noon. Several employees who volunteered to work provided them food and a dry place to stay until it was time for them to go out in the storm.
“We’re going to be open again tonight through the night, and probably pick up our regular hours tomorrow or so," Carroll said. "As long as we have power, we should be good.”
CVS Pharmacy at the corner of U.S. Highway 90 and SR 85 was open in the morning but began to close at noon for the safety of the employees. They still had a few cases of bottled water left, but were limiting them to two per person.
“We’ve seen people come in this morning mainly buying batteries and bread, which we’re now out of,” clerk Sophia Ricard said. “We’re limiting the water bottles ... because we don’t want people to sell them for more than they’re worth.”
Waffle House was one of the few other places open, and was busier than a usual Wednesday afternoon. Most of the seats were full, and about a dozen linemen and tree service technicians were waiting for seating.
According to management, the restaurant planned to stay open through the storm, albeit with a limited menu.
Wendy’s at the corner of Airport Road and SR 85 also was serving food, but only by the drive-thru.