Two restaurants in Uptown operated by Aileen Reilly, chef Paul Reilly and JP Taylor are closing temporarily, joining many other eateries that are taking weeks — or the entire winter — off. "After much consideration, we have made the decision to temporarily close both Beast + Bottle and Coperta," Paul Reilly wrote in an email announcing the move. "The current restrictions are just not sustainable, and for the health of our long-term business, we are hibernating the restaurants until indoor dining, guest confidence and a more plausible stimulus package are in place."
Congress passed a new stimulus package before Christmas, and President Donald Trump finally signed it on December 28, so the Paycheck Protection Program that helped restaurants reopen last spring will soon begin again — this time with better provisions for the hospitality industry.
In the meantime, Beast + Bottle and Coperta, which also took their time reopening last summer, will stay dark. "The sobering reality is that our small businesses will save more money during this hibernation — paying rent and utilities — than if we were in operation under reduced capacity," Reilly added.
Last spring and summer, Beast + Bottle ran a small weekly farmers' market in conjunction with Ollin Farms before eventually reopening in late July for outdoor dining, while Coperta reopened earlier that month. Both restaurants added single-party greenhouses to their patio seating to keep guests comfortable on cold nights, but the total seating capacity was still very low.
Last week, chef/restaurateur Dana Rodriguez closed her two RiNo restaurants, Work & Class and Super Mega Bien, to take a much-needed break and refuel for next year. And all of the Crafted Concepts group run by chef Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch, including Rioja, Bistro Vendôme, Stoic & Genuine and Ultreia, will close from January 3 to January 13 (reopening on January 14).
Colorado's 5 Star Certification program is already helping restaurants around the state reopen with limited dining room capacity, but so far, Douglas County is the only metro-area county to implement the system, which allows businesses to add indoor seating and later last call if they meet certain health and safety guidelines. For Denver restaurateur Jeff Osaka, that allowed him to submit his Lone Tree location of Sushi-Rama, at 10012 Commons Street, to the list, and he was approved this week, so the sushi bar will reopen at 25 percent capacity on Thursday, December 31.
Osaka's Denver locations of Sushi-Rama and Osaka Ramen will have to wait, though. The City and County of Denver just began putting together its own 5 Star program, which will need to be approved by the State of Colorado before restaurants can start getting inspected and approved. The Colorado Restaurant Association says it expects Denver to submit its application to the state early next week, so at least the wheels are in motion.
With COVID statistics improving in Denver, PPP money soon coming from Washington, D.C., and the 5 Star Certification in the works, 2021 is looking hopeful for Denver restaurants — and for diners, too.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.