Restaurants report a busy spring break, but attribute long waitlists to capacity limits
Breckenridge restaurant managers said that despite Main Street security, they haven’t noticed a difference in mask compliance
Restaurant managers say that while spring break isn’t quite as busy as in years past, there are definitely more people in town — and fewer available tables. And despite the town of Breckenridge placing private security on Main Street to enforce COVID-19 restrictions like mask-wearing and physical distancing, many restaurants say they are continuing to encounter guests who refuse to follow local health ordinances.
Asa Arevalo, manager at Ollie’s Pub & Grub, said that March has been “very busy,” but he stated that when it comes to business, nothing in the past year has been comparable with previous years.
“We’re doing what we can,” Arevalo said. “I’d say it’s definitely a bit slower than most spring breaks just because of the nature of all these hoops we’ve got to jump through.”
Arevalo explained that the restaurant is split into upstairs and downstairs sections, with the upstairs section seated on a reservation basis and downstairs section seated on a first-come, first-served basis. He said that there were more than 100 people on the restaurant’s downstairs waitlist Friday night. Instead of college students, Arevalo said he has seen more families this spring break.
When it comes to enforcing COVID-19 restrictions in the restaurant, Arevalo said that ever since the restaurant reopened it has been a “constant battle” to get people to wear masks when they are required — whenever they’re not seated to eat — to avoid socializing with other tables and to keep physical distance.
“It’s been a constant thing we deal with pretty much on a daily basis,” Arevalo said. “Some people are understanding once you explain to them that these are the rules that we have to follow to stay open, but other people just don’t care.”
Security guards hired by the town began patrolling Breckenridge Main Street on Saturday, March 13, and have a tentative end date this Saturday, March 27, according to public information officer Haley Littleton. Littleton said in an email that the timeline for how long security will remain on Main Street may be adjusted. She noted that so far, guards have not reported any problems.
The security on Main Street was meant to support front-line workers by reinforcing public health orders and town ordinances, but Arevalo said he hasn’t noticed a difference in people’s behavior. He said that it’s likely people pull their masks up when they see security personnel and take them back down afterward.
Jim Townsley, shift manager at Motherloaded Tavern, said he also hadn’t noticed a difference in compliance with COVID-19 restrictions since extra security was placed on Main Street.
“The same people who don’t want to wear masks are still fighting it,” Townsley said.
Townsley said Sunday that the tavern has been busy during the spring break period, with a consistent one- to two-hour wait. He noted that the long waitlist was mainly due to the limited capacity of the restaurant, as restaurants in Summit County are currently capped at 50%. Townsley also said that spring break this year isn’t quite comparable with past years due to capacity limits and a lack of late-night business.
In Frisco, Roy Beinfest, assistant general manager of sister-restaurants Silverheels Bar & Grill and Kemosabe Sushi, said the restaurants have been extremely busy as a result of spring break crowds and fewer available tables. He said that guests have come in recently complaining that every restaurant in town had two-hour wait times. Beinfest said the restaurants aren’t doing better in terms of business than prior years, but they are often booked up for reservations around dinner time.
As for COVID-19 restrictions, Beinfest echoed Arevalo’s sentiment that restaurants deal with noncompliance daily.
“I tell people that, ‘I don’t care about your politics, this is what we need to do,’” Beinfest said. “I have agreed with people just to have them shut up. If they don’t have a reservation, and they give me too much lip, then I don’t have a table for them.” Beinfest said.
Beinfest said he’s had people walk out of the restaurants when asked to fill out contact-tracing cards, which are required at businesses that are part of the 5 Star State Certification Program, including Kemosabe and Silverheels. He added that it’s particularly hard to get people to follow COVID-19 requirements when they’re on their way out of the restaurant because they’ve already eaten and paid, while service can be refused to guests who don’t comply with local rules prior to eating.
“We noticed a change in the crowd this weekend,” Beinfest said. “… I think a lot of the people who like the rules, and agree with the rules that are in place, are the ones who are also being responsible and saying, ‘Hey, we’ll take this year off. We go up to the mountains every year. This year we’ll stay at home.’ So naturally the people you’re getting, people that are actually making the decision to come out in the year of a pandemic, are people who think less of it or care less about it.”
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