Colorado restaurants get some relief after Governor Polis relaxes rules on alcohol sales

Posted at 9:51 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-22 17:23:34-04

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- Restaurants gearing up for their first Friday night without dine-in customers received a bit of relief from Governor Jared Polis when he announced he would allow alcohol sales for delivery and take-out services.

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On Monday, Governor Polis forced all restaurants to close their dine-in options for at least 30 days in an attempt to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Since then, businesses have had to cut some staff and reduce the hours of others in an attempt to make ends meet.

“It hit us hard. My revenue each month is down more than a third and now we’re getting down to more than a half. Week over week, we are losing and losing and losing,” said Maureen Reynolds, who runs Rose’s Bella Cucina in Castle Rock.

Normally, Friday nights in Rose’s are packed with patrons trying to grab some Italian food and wine.

This time around, the tables are empty and only a few staff members are in the kitchen. Some days, it’s just been Reynolds and the chef. She’s not sure how much longer she will be able to cover her current costs.

“Right now, I can’t pay bills that are due this week, which is today. I cannot pay my second half of my rent. I can’t pay my Castle Rock taxes. I just don’t have enough money in the bank. Everything will bounce,” Reynolds said. “I’m praying I can do payroll.”

Alcohol is a big part of the restaurant’s sales. Reynolds hadn’t heard about the news that the governor was going to relax the alcohol licensing rules until Denver7 called her.

At first, she didn’t believe it, but after seeing the news for herself, Reynolds immediately put up a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page offering 20% off of wine bottles for people who come in Friday.

“I’m hopeful, I’m very hopeful that this will swing my numbers,” Reynolds said. “We’ll see how long we can endure. I’m trying to stay in business right now.”

Down the road in Lone Tree, the owner of Cranelli’s Italian Restaurant, Lucinda Crane, is also hopeful.

“Thank you, governor, seriously that’s all I have to say because the more that we can sell, the better — and that’s a big deal,” she said.

Starting Sunday, Crane sais she saw 40% of her business drop off. As a result, she’s had to shrink some of her staff.

Despite this, Crane said her customers have been amazing and are coming in to buy food or gift cards to help support the restaurant.

In an effort to bring more customers in, Cranelli’s is offering discounts on its gift cards and wine.

The Colorado Restaurant Association is also applauding the Governor’s decision.

In a statement sent to Denver7, CEO Sonia Riggs said, "We're grateful to Governor Polis and the state for allowing restaurants to sell alcohol via delivery and takeout. Alcohol is a significant source of revenue for restaurants, and this provision will add an essential revenue stream — and potentially preserve a few precious jobs — in an industry that has had to lay off about 80 percent of its workforce in the last week. That said, restaurants need significant help from all levels of government if they're going to survive this crisis. We hope to see more relief — including cash assistance from the federal government — soon."

For now, Crane said she’s just taking things day by day, trying to keep her staff’s spirits up, as well as revenue.

“I’m still scared, but I figured people are going to remember us by how we act right now,” Crane said. “We’re going to get through this, I don’t care what I have to do.”