Survey Shows Lockdown Will Devastate Local Restaurants but Patios Could Be the Solution

In a recent survey conducted by the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) – nearly 25% of restaurants in Colorado say they would consider closing immediately. That is if the state were to undergo another shutdown. After a long year of fighting COVID-19 – Governor Polis announces new restrictions this week due to a rise in cases. But the move towards decreasing the spread of the virus is going to devastate Colorado’s restaurant industry.

Photo by Adrienne Thomas

As of today – Denver and 15 other counties in Colorado are entering a level four or “red” restriction. Along with a potential stay-at-home order, Denver’s restaurants are limited to outdoor dining only. With indoor dining completely prohibited as COVID-19 cases increase statewide – take out and curbside are strongly recommended.

Previous lockdowns due to COVID-19 have already taken a toll on the livelihood of Denver’s vibrant food scene. Restaurants such as Denver’s Acorn – recently closed their doors for good in September. Zolo Grill – another long-loved restaurant in Boulder announces they will be turning out the lights for good at the end of the month. A common theme we’ll most likely continue to see as the state revisits lockdowns due to record-high coronavirus cases.

Bellota formerly known as Acorn. Photo by Brittany Werges.

“It’s tough news, but inevitable. All of the effort we’ve been putting towards ghost kitchens and WeDeliver (our own delivery service) and heated outdoor tents was in anticipation of this happening. We are going to do everything we can to stay open, cooking, slinging, delivering, and moving forward,” said Dave Query from Big Red F Restaurant Group.

According to the survey, “Restaurants report that on average, 54% of their summer revenue came from their patios.” However, despite their success – many restaurants are still debating whether or not to plan for a winter patio expansion.  It costs on average $17,630 to winterize a patio – and is a price many are not able to afford. At least 18% of the survey participants say it’s too much of a burden without government assistance.

For others – a winterized patio expansion is an obvious choice. “Today’s news is not a surprise, unfortunately. It’s something we have prepared for. We made significant investments in outdoor seating options and we re-engineered our menus so they are to-go friendly and offer great value,” said Culinary Creative, Juan Padro.

Photo by Alysia Shoemaker.

In addition to boosting revenue – patio expansions are an opportunity for local employment. “Restaurants say summer patios saved or created about 30% of their current staff jobs,” CRA reports. By winterizing these patios – restaurants also say it could save or create 29% of employment opportunities this winter.

Before the pandemic, there were 11,800 eating and drinking locations employing more than 300,000 workers in Colorado – nearly 10% of the state’s labor force. To help the Colorado restaurant industry this winter – continue to wear a mask, opt for take out, bundle up or consider buying a gift card for future use.

Go here to stay up to date on current state-wide restrictions.