Summit County restaurants remain open for takeout despite major drop in business
DILLON — Providing strictly takeout orders to locals isn’t exactly a profitable business model for Summit County restaurants. However, several restaurant owners have decided to continue serving to-go food to keep kitchen employees working, pay for expenses like utilities and maintain some sense of “normalcy” for locals.
TJ Messerschmitt, owner of Fatty’s Pizzeria in Breckenridge, said he has two reasons to continue takeout operations:
“A: We have the ability to do it. It’s a nice service to the local community here that’s been taking care of us for so many years,” Messerschmitt said. “B: We have kitchen people who … don’t have the ability to apply for unemployment, so we’re still getting them hours.”
Messerschmitt said the money brought in from takeout business is “just enough” to help pay for utilities and kitchen staff, which he said amounts to four or five rotating employees.
“No matter what you do right now, you’re going to lose money in the restaurant industry,” Messerschmitt said.
Messerschmitt said Fatty’s has a slight advantage in the takeout industry because the pizzeria has always done takeout orders, whereas Relish, another one of Messerschmitt’s restaurants, has closed because he said they are not known for takeout and have not been able to operate on that model. Typically, Messerschmitt said takeout accounts for 5% to 10% of Fatty’s daily sales. Now that takeout is all of his sales, the restaurant is seeing a 90% to 95% drop in business. Messerschmitt said he hopes to stay open throughout the shutdown.
Sauce on the Blue managing partner and owner Tim Applegate was adamant that his Silverthorne restaurant would stay open.
“We will not close,” Applegate said. “Even if I only sell one pizza tomorrow, we will stay open. That is my promise.”
Applegate said he feels staying open is important for the community and for his kitchen employees. He said it’s been heartwarming to see locals repeatedly placing takeout orders and buying gift certificates for future use in support of the restaurant.
“We’re trying to be there so people can see some kind of consistency, some kind of normalcy,” Applegate said. “All we can try to do is be ready when things open back up, and they will. We’ll all be back. We’ll all be strong again.”
Frank Michaud, owner and manager of Chimayo Mexican Grill in Dillon, said his restaurant sees a lot of local business under normal circumstances, and while he is seeing local support amid the shutdown, Michaud said it is a good day if he can break even. He said he stays open for the local customers and for his employees.
“Our locals want to keep coming in, so we’ve got to do what we can do there, and I’ve got some staff that I’d really like to keep,” Michaud said.
He said the restaurant has seen a few workplace orders from places like Lowe’s, which has helped business. He said that it also helps that Chimayo is set up well for takeout options and is able to operate on lower cost margins.
“We’re here. We’re trying to keep it going,” Michaud said.
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