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Initiative 300 goes down; local restaurateurs savor their victory

Initiative 300, the paid sick-leave proposal on yesterday's ballot, would have affected just about every business in Denver -- but restaurants became the real poster child of the campaign, on both the pro and con sides.

The Yes on 300 campaign used scare tactics -- including pictures of cantaloupes on mailers and a "flu with your fries" slogan -- to try to convince residents that every time they ate at a restaurant, they were putting their health at risk. The No on 300 campaign emphasized that the passage of 300 would put the health of small businesses at risk.

And the independent restaurants of Denver -- particularly the sixty-plus members of EatDenver, many of which have their own sick-leave policies that they worried would be overruled if this proposal passed -- were at the forefront of the fight, which resulted in a decisive victory for the No on 300 campaign.

That means that it's going to be a very good morning at any of the five Snooze restaurants in Colorado (one will open in San Diego later this month), co-owned by current EatDenver president Adam Schlegel. "EatDenver and our local restaurants take pride in making a positive impact in our community," Schlegel says, "so this group's attacks were disturbing. We're thankful Denver is a community that supports small businesses and recognizes the positive impact we can all make by working together."

And now, he adds, "We'll be glad to step out of the political arena."

Initiative 300 wound up on the ballot by petition -- pushed by an out-of-state group that did not consult with local businesses on the language of the provision, or work with local politicians to first get it through Denver City Council, for example. ("We talked with voters," one Yes on 300 campaigner told me when I met with the proponents to try to make sense of the very wordy, and very confusing, measure.)

"We truly appreciate Denver voters for rejecting the false and negative attacks on restaurants, and voting against this job-killing proposal," says Pete Meersman, president and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, in a statement sent out last night by the No on 300 campaign. "Thank you on behalf of your neighborhood restaurants."

Now, get out and eat....and remember to tip your server.