While some restaurant owners are on board, others worry 11 pm curfew will hurt their business
BRECKENRIDGE — Concerns over patrons lingering at restaurants pushed the Breckenridge Town Council to implement a mandatory 11 p.m. closing, an order that has received mixed support from local restaurant owners.
The curfew went along with a number of other new changes to the town’s coronavirus response. At an emergency meeting Thursday, July 9, the council also voted to require face coverings along Main Street and implement a penalization process for businesses that are violating the public health order.
“I’ve talked to some doctors and some restaurant owners over the last couple of days who really believe that at 10:30, 11 o’clock, the scene does change despite having a basket of chips at your table,” council member Kelly Owens said at Thursday’s meeting. “I just think there are enough really difficult things to control after 10:30 at a restaurant or a bar. The most responsible thing for our community to avoid an outbreak and shutdown completely would be for us to impose a curfew.”
The 11 p.m. curfew went into effect Thursday night, Mayor Eric Mamula said. At a joint Board of Health and Summit Board of County Commissioners meeting Thursday, Summit County officials discussed a potential countywide curfew as well.
While many restaurants were already closing before 11 p.m., there are a few that will be directly affected by the curfew. Anthony Bulfin, owner of Salt Creek Steakhouse and Napper Tandy’s Irish Pub on Lincoln Avenue, wrote a letter to the council expressing his concern about the curfew.
“I fail to understand the logic of an arbitrary time constraint on a business that has been observing the state laws and health service recommendations,” he wrote. “To my knowledge the virus has no regard as to what time of day or night are optimal for transition.”
Bulfin said the curfew will drastically hurt his revenue from Napper Tandy’s, which usually closes at 2 a.m.
“Not being on Main Street and not benefitting from the walkable Main Street initiative, we were reliant on our later-night customers,” he said in an interview. “So, yeah, we’re severely affected.”
Chmurn Cain, owner of The Motherloaded Tavern on Main Street, is in support of the curfew. Since March 15, the restaurant, which normally closes at 2 a.m., has been closing at 9 p.m. in an effort to prevent late night mingling that might spread the virus.
“The late night clientele is different than the lunch clientele,” she said. “I know it shouldn’t be but it is. It is the nature of the beast.”
Cain said losing the late night crowd means a 30% drop in revenue at Motherloaded Tavern. While it isn’t ideal, the drop in revenue might be worth it if it prevents the spread, she said.
“It’s not that I don’t need it, I do need it and I want it,” she said. “But I’m not going to jeopardize the success of any of us getting back to normal.”
Although his restaurant isn’t affected by the curfew, Brian Jones, owner of Northside Pizza on Main Street, said he doesn’t see how the curfew will help stop the spread of the virus.
“It’s not like coronavirus comes out at night,” he said. “If people are getting together during the day, I don’t see what it really does.”
Both Jones and Bulfin were supportive of efforts by the council to prevent the spread of the virus, but felt that the curfew was an unnecessary step.
“I’m all on for doing everything possible to curb the coronavirus cases, that’s not what this is about, however,” Bulfin said. “The town was relying on anecdotal evidence about people out and about and mingling too much, whereas I think an arbitrary closing time of 11 p.m. is not going to change much. The risk at 3 p.m. is just as big as the risk at 11 p.m.”
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