Local business owners give insight on reopening process
DILLON — Local businesses have been open at 50% capacity for several weeks now as noncritical retail businesses were able to open under restrictions on May 8 and restaurants were able to open for in-person dining on May 27. Business owners report that they’re happy to be able to reopen and see visitors frequenting their businesses, but many still report that the capacity rule is affecting their business negatively.
Sauce on the Blue managing partner and owner Tim Applegate said that his restaurant in Silverthorne opened for in-person dining as soon as it was able to, as Sauce on the Blue stayed open throughout the shutdown for takeout.
“We had done a lot of work to the outside patio and made it bigger. …We were working on opening up right away so the moment we got the news we were ready to go,” Applegate said.
Applegate said that during the first week of being open for in-person dining the restaurant saw mainly locals, but once short-term rentals and lodging opened up visitors started coming in. He said the restaurant has been working hard to follow all the town’s guidelines regarding physical distancing, cleaning and facial coverings. Applegate said most of his customer feedback indicates people are generally glad to get outside, sit down and have a meal.
“We’re not where we were, but we’re doing it, we’re happy just to be open and this looks better than it did March 20,” Applegate said.
Due to the warm weather, Applegate said the patio has helped alleviate the business effects of the 50% cap as people are willing to sit outside, but the restaurant hopes to operate without the cap in the fall. As the owner of several other restaurants in the county, including Sauce on the Maggie, Quandary Grille and Inxpot Cafe, Applegate said he doesn’t think he can open most of them at 50% capacity and “still plan on paying the bills.”
Applegate said the restaurant is now up to full staff and noted that the servers are working extremely hard and sacrificing everyday even as they aren’t making as much money as they did before the pandemic.
“They’re working harder than they ever had before and making less money than they ever did before,” Applegate said. “They need to be recognized for all the hard work they’re doing.”
He pointed out that servers have to wear facial coverings for eight to 12 hours a day, which can be difficult in a busy environment especially when trying to communicate with customers. Applegate said that a lot of the legwork to comply with the health protocols has fallen on the servers.
Applegate said that in looking around the country he believes Summit County has done a good job in mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“I think we all thought that they were a little bit too cautious, maybe right now it looks as though they were just the right amount of cautious,” Applegate said. “So I think the county’s been doing a good job trying to keep us all safe and I’m just glad that we’re open and if this is what it looks like for the summer and we have to continue doing that, I’m all for it. I hope that we can get back to some kind of normalcy as we get into fall.”
Goods, a retail store in Breckenridge, is located within the town’s Walkable Main area. Manager Lovie Schaeffer said she has seen an increase in foot traffic to the store and that during the summer the pedestrian walkway has been “fantastic” as people walk around town. She said the store has seen a lot of out-of-state visitors and visitors from the Front Range.
“It’s comparable considering the situation,” Schaeffer said, comparing business this year with other summers. “I would say we’re doing fine. We thought we would be way down this year and so far we are not since we opened back up. I don’t know if it’s the people wanting to get out and spend with small businesses or if it is a result of the street closure, there’s really no way to know but we have no complaints at all.”
Schaeffer said she has had to turn a few people away due to the store hitting the capacity limit but that overall the capacity limit has been “very manageable” for the store.
In Frisco, Stork & Bear Co. was open for delivery and curbside pick-up throughout the shutdown and opened for limited in-person shopping on May 4. Now that capacity for in-person shopping has increased to 50%, Owner Mary Elaine Moore said the feedback has generally been that people are happy to see that they’re open. She said that due to the capacity limit, she has had to “put the ribbon up” a few times after reaching the maximum.
Spice Merchants is also located within Breckenridge’s Walkable Main, but co-owner Ja-Lene Postema reported that things have been slow. Postema said she doesn’t know if Walkable Main has brought much foot traffic to her store or not, but said that she has received positive comments about the closure from customers. However, she said business is not comparable to other summers.
Postema also said that the customers that have come in were mainly locals at first, but she has recently seen more visitors from the Front Range and from Texas.
Postema said she’s working to gradually bring her full staff back, but is currently working reduced hours until next weekend for the Fourth of July. Spice Merchants has several other store locations and Postema said she feels Summit County is more “on top of their game” than some of the places the other stores are located in.
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