Douglas County restaurant owners are feeling increasingly anxious about the coming months as new restrictions related to preventing the spread of COVID-19 now prohibit all indoor dining.
It's because of these new rules that Douglas County commissioners voted to designate $15 million of federal funding to local restaurants and indoor event venues in a Nov. 19 work session. These businesses can receive 10% of their revenue lost, with a maximum of $200,000.
“The board of county commissioners recognizes the hardship to our community caused by compliance with restrictions in these public health orders,” according to a new release from the county. “Knowing there has not yet been any new financial assistance offered along with these recent orders, the commissioners believe this is the most effective way to offer some relief for those who will be most impacted.”
Many businesses, particularly restaurants, appear desperate for this type of relief as they stare down the coming winter months with nothing to sustain them but takeout orders and outdoor dining.
“We're back to where we started with a lot of uncertainty,” said Peter Fatianow, owner of Indulge Bistro & Wine Bar, near Town Center in Highlands Ranch. “It looks like for us and a lot of restaurants, holiday parties and things that have been on the books for a long time are gone. It's a big blow for sure.”
Restaurants are scrambling to find new ways to accommodate guests outside, including with tents, cabanas, heaters and fire pits.
“We're nervous about (this),” said Dave Gardner, owner of Max Taps Co. in Highlands Ranch. “We get the patio but it's winter. So, it's going to be tough.”
Gardner, who said his patio now has multiple fire pits and heaters, hopes that the community is ready to dress for the weather and still come out to local restaurants.
“I hope it doesn't last as long as the first time because at least we had warm weather then,” he said.
Chris Bogert, general manager of Landsdowne Arms in Highlands Ranch, said he's looking to the community to continue being understanding as the local businesses work through this difficult time.
“Small businesses are struggling right now and we just want people to understand that and be supportive,” he said. “We're doing the best we can to give them the best service and survive.”
Bogert hopes that his restaurant's patio will still draw customers as many other restaurants close their doors for dining-in.
“People are going to want to go out,” he said.
He also would like to see the community wear their masks, he said.
“If everybody wears a mask and it gets us back to work sooner, just do it,” he said.
Applications for the county's funding, which will be awarded on a first-come first-serve basis, will be accepted from Dec. 1-30, according to the county's news release.
More information about the funding, including eligibility requirements, is available by emailing DCBusinessGrants@douglas.co.us, calling 303-660-7460 or visiting douglas.co.us/cares-act.
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