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Reader: Help These Restaurants or We Will Be Left With Only Chains

El Five is closed...for now.
El Five is closed...for now.
Danielle Lirette

Denver's stay-at-home order has ended, but restaurants and bars still don't have a date for when they'll be able to open up for drinkers/diners, in addition to the current option of offering to-go and delivery. During a May 8 press conference, Governor Jared Polis hinted at eateries potentially being able to reopen around Memorial Day, but there are no guarantees of that.

In the meantime, restaurateurs aren't waiting to hear what the rules will be once their establishments are finally back in business. They're coming up with their own ideas, and one group just sent a letter to Mayor Michael Hancock and his new Economic Relief & Recovery Council, urging the city to allow more outdoor seating — on sidewalks, in alleys and even in parking lots — to give restaurants a chance to serve more customers while still observing social-distancing guidelines and capacity restrictions...whatever those might be.

Says Dan: 

Yes, let’s be creative and get more room for people to be safe and enjoy the great scene here!

Adds Jim:

 Totally agree. Shut down streets like Larimer or streets in RiNo (and the equivalents everywhere), and give the space to these restaurants. Hell, it's what makes places in Italy and France attractive. We should do that here, too. (And permanent!)

Urges Stacie: 

Help these restaurants or we will be left with only chain restaurants.

Warns Dan: 

Between the city regs and gouging landlords, only bland chains will be left. Money money money makes the world go 'round.

Notes Jimmy:

There are a lot of moving parts to keeping restaurants, bars and venues alive past just simply allowing us to reopen. Music venues should be allowed to host events outdoors, and restaurants should be allowed to add seating outdoors: 25% occupancy will only allow us to hire back 25% of the staff and pay 25% of our bills, if we are lucky.

Replies Belinda: 

Most restaurants won’t reopen at 25% occupancy. The way they are doing it now is better for them. I have spoken to many owners the past weeks and they all feel that even at 50% occupancy it will be a stretch. This town is going to have a new look in regards to the restaurant scene and who is still around to reopen. Sad but true.

Ryan responds: 

Stop bitching and blaming. Simply try at a solution. Decide the capacity. Then do seatings as if it was New Year's Eve. There is a seating at 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, 8pm, 10pm...very simple. Fill the restaurant, clean the restaurant, fill, clean...reservation...

But then there's this from Nick: 

We shouldn't be giving people the excuse to gather in numbers in any one place, especially to consume alcohol. Declare bankruptcy and restart your business when a cure is found. I know that's harsh, but there's nothing fair about a pandemic.

Counters Chris:

 You know what would be even more smokin' hot? It would be awesome if people could actually work and we could actually dine in and we could actually get through this virus with an economy on the other side. This isn't 1918.

And Leah concludes: 

 I don't know where I'd be without the folks in the service industry! Dining out, hitting up bars for happy hour...it's what keeps me going, what I truly enjoy, and I appreciate everyone involved in making this happen.

I've been doing my best during this stressful time to continue supporting local breweries and restaurants as much as possible.

In their letter to the mayor regarding more outdoor space for restaurants, supports of the plan write:

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"When we begin to safely reopen restaurants, not only will we need to begin at limited capacity, but we know that our community will have more confidence in the safety of open-air outdoor dining. It's a matter of simple math. With at most half capacity indoors—maybe less, al fresco is the name of the game that will allow restaurants and drinking establishments of all stripes and flavors to survive by granting them access in the warm months to as many tables and chairs as possible. We believe that using parking lots, sidewalks, parking spaces and in some cases, taking space on local streets for outdoor seating and retail merchandising is an opportunity to support these establishments and allow the community to enjoy them safely. In order for establishments to be able to open and in many cases survive, patio/liquor license/outdoor seating rules need to be established almost immediately. This can happen in Denver based on suggestions from the Colorado Restaurant Association and as it has in cities around the world. We ask the Mayor and his team to structure the rules in order to make this operational before the end of the month. Restaurants need to be able to count on that happening in the next few weeks."

Will restaurants be able to reopen by Memorial Day? Where would you go first? Post a comment or email editorial@westword.com. 

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