River Park Inn first to get Seal of Commitment

Certification verifies inn compliant with COVID-19 safety procedures

By Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 10/7/20

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – River Park Inn owner Pat Sickles became the first business owner in Clay County to receive the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Seal of Commitment.

The Seal of …

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River Park Inn first to get Seal of Commitment

Certification verifies inn compliant with COVID-19 safety procedures

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – River Park Inn owner Pat Sickles became the first business owner in Clay County to receive the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Seal of Commitment.

The Seal of Commitment is an FRLA program that sees restaurants and lodging all around the state strive to meet state and federal safety and sanitization guidelines, amongst other things, to receive a physical and digital Seal of Commitment. This seal represents a promise to consumers that says this business is safe and you can utilize its services with peace of mind. Sickles received her seal on Friday, Oct. 2, and it was a big moment for her.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Sickles said. “I can’t wait to display this seal because I’m really proud of it. It really means so much to have this because I’ve been doing everything right for my customers but to be accredited feels great.”

Sickles has been the owner of River Park Inn in Green Cove Springs for 23 years and as a business owner and member of the county’s Tourism Development Council, she knows first-hand how hard COVID-19 hit businesses in the area, especially restaurants and lodging. River Park Inn has its hands in both of those industries as it’s a bed and breakfast inn.

RCS Training regional manager John Shermetaro worked with Sickles to ensure her inn was meeting all of the standards required to receive the seal. This includes food manager courses, sanitization procedure plans and more. He said Sickles had it all under control when he arrived at River Park Inn.

“As far as the seal, my job is to ensure they’re in compliance and using best practices,” Shermetaro said. “Sickles was doing that and more and this seal she’s received today really shows that.”

Shermetaro and Northeast Florida chapter FRLA director Nicole Chapman presented Sickles with the award Friday alongside county manager Howard Wanamaker and Tourism Director Kimberly Morgan. They were all excited Sickles was the first in Clay County to receive the seal.

Morgan said the bed tax brought in from businesses like River Park Inn are important to Clay County’s tourism, which is currently marketing itself as an off-the-path, small-town, big-passion county that’s safe and welcome to tourists from all over. She said restaurants and lodging receiving these seals will make Clay County even easier to market.

“It’s tangible proof that these businesses care about their employee and customer safety,” Morgan said.

She said the county is reimbursing businesses $750 for getting the seal which not only covers the $150 fee associated with the seal, but additional costs related to buying more safety and sanitization equipment and supplies.

“We really want small businesses to thrive in Clay County and that’s what this is all about,” Morgan said.

Sickles said the day means a lot to her. After dozens of cancellations earlier in the Spring as a result of COVID-19, she closed the inn for 10 weeks, unsure of what the future looked like for it and her. To see it open again and accredited with the Seal of Commitment means the world to her.

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