Restaurants were hit early and hit hard by the response to coronavirus. On March 16, Governor Jared Polis ordered all restaurants and bars in the state closed to any dine-in service as of 8 a.m. March 17, although allowed for takeout, drive-thru and delivery options to continue.
According to a survey conducted by EatDenver, an organization representing independent eateries in metro Denver, within a day of that mandated closure of in-facility dining, local establishments had already laid off more than 80 percent of their staffs, about 5,000 workers. (And that survey only represented 44 companies, about 150 restaurants.) Thousands of other restaurant workers around town are also out of work, and those numbers are only going to rise...but increased demand for pickup and delivery could help.
First up: The Post Brewing Co. at 2200 South Broadway.
The Post won Best Fried Chicken honors from readers in our Best of Denver 2019, and had been going strong in this year's poll, which went live back in January. After a day of just pretzels in our temporary home (most staffers are working remotely), fried chicken to-go sounded like a winning proposition, so I called the Post, part of the Big Red F group, which has been strong from the start in its desire to support both its workers and the community at large. "Howdy friends," reads the current message on the Big Red F website. "We are now offering curbside pick-up & delivery only and temporarily closing for eat-in dining. We know this is what’s needed in the short term to get us back to a degree of normalcy sooner....You are helping us keep afloat during this pandemic."
A friendly staffer on the other end of the line took my order: "Family Love" with a whole bird (ten pieces of fried chicken), two big sides, four biscuits and the house pickles for $44, with a free side of Nashville hot sauce so that I could turn up the heat. After asking my name and make of car, she told me that my order would be ready in about twenty minutes.
At 6 p.m. on a normal weekday, the drive down Broadway would take twenty minutes. But these are not normal days. It took about five minutes to zip down the 28-block stretch, passing shuttered business after shuttered business. These are the small businesses that keep Denver humming, that give this city so much of this character, now closed for who knows how long.
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Many of these businesses are small, independent restaurants that had decided against offering delivery and takeout and simply shuttered for the duration...some perhaps forever. It was a drive through the dark unknowns of the days ahead.
The sight of The Post brightened things up considerably. In the parking lot, several people sat in their cars, waiting for their orders; I got out and went up to the door to get mine. Beyond, I could see the dining room that would normally be packed, now empty. But the skeleton crew inside was efficient and cheerful (although one had a few stern words for an independent delivery service that wouldn't pick up the phone), taking my card (remember to tip big) and handing me my dinner from always safe distances.
Thanks to the lack of traffic, I arrived at my destination in record time. The chicken was still hot: crispy on the outside, and tender inside. It was the best.
Family love, indeed.
See our list of Denver restaurants offering takeout, drive-thru and delivery here; send information on other options to firstname.lastname@example.org.