Another week without pandemic restrictions, another week with no restaurant closings. Now that people are pouring back into dining rooms across Denver, however, another issue is forcing some restaurants to scale back their hours, or even close temporarily, as is the case with Troy Guard's FNG: lack of staff. Since COVID hit, "a lot of people have taken other jobs, moved away, done what they needed to survive," Guard explains of the worker shortage he's facing with his restaurant group, which includes eight brands. Closing FNG for now will allow him to move the staffers there to his other concepts, he explains.
At The Halal Guys, which kicked off the grand-opening week of its first Colorado location on June 18, franchise owners Chris Bui and Kevin Than used an old-school method, handing out fliers at Town Center at Aurora, to attract staff, many of whom are high school students.
Carmine's on Penn, open since 1994, kept the doors open (though at times only for takeout and delivery) throughout the pandemic restrictions, and eventually brought all 33 employees back thanks to the PPP loan it received. Some of those staff members have now made the move to Carmine's second location at McGregor Square, which officially opened June 18.
Even before COVID, finding restaurant staff in Denver was a challenge; unemployment funds, lack of child care, frustration with restaurant culture and general post-COVID burnout are among the many factors contributing to the added obstacles today.
But somehow, new restaurants keep opening, and owners like Guard are getting creative regarding how to keep feeding people and improve restaurant culture in a post-pandemic world. "We do what we can," Guard says. "That's been my motto."
Here's the full list of openings and temporary closings this week:
Restaurants opening this week:*
Carmine's on McGregor Square, 1951 Wazee Street
Gruvi Tasting Lounge (summer pop-up), 1455 South Pearl Street
The Halal Guys, 14535 East Alameda Avenue Suite D, Aurora
La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal, 2233 Larimer Street
Lost City at Avanti Boulder, 1401 Pearl Street, Boulder
X Denver, 3100 Inca Street
Ope 'n Bubbler at Edgewater Public Market, 5505 West 20th Avenue, Edgewater
Restaurants closing temporarily this week:*
FNG, 3940 West 32nd Avenue
*Or earlier and not previously listed.
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