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Aurora community rallies around local restaurant, bar

Posted at 4:45 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-22 17:30:13-04

AURORA, Colo. — The Rock Restaurant & Bar is a neighborhood favorite for residents in southeast Aurora. But everything changed for the owners when Gov. Jared Polis prohibited on-site dining at restaurants amid coronavirus concerns.

The Rock is owned by two Colorado moms: Barb Finnin and Laura Dunston. Their journey started in 1993 when they opened The Piney Creek Grill off Orchard and Parker Road. In 2003, they opened The Rock Restaurant & Bar at 22934 E. Smoky Hill Road in Aurora.

"The Rock has become a thriving business for us," Dunston said.

But then the novel coronavirus and its consequences hit, and the governor prohibited on-site dining at restaurants.

Dunston and Finnin decided to try a take-out only approach in an effort to survive. They have been shocked to see the overwhelming community response.

"Our neighbors have just been going above and beyond," Dunston said. "It brings us to tears."

People have been coming non-stop to pick up their to-go orders, they said. Some have posted pictures on social media showing themselves in front of the restaurant with their to-go bags.

The Rock has always had close relationships with area high schools. Staff at Eaglecrest High School sent an alert to the whole Eaglecrest community to order to-go from The Rock from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday.

"It's just amazing to see how many people want to see us get through this," Dunston said, smiling.

Most of the staff at the restaurant have been laid off so they can file for unemployment.

"I have no doubt we will survive this," Dunston said.