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Front Range restaurants prepare for cold, snowy weekend

Posted at 5:55 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 20:18:13-05

DENVER -- Restaurant owners are wondering if heaters and tents will be enough to entice diners as snowy weather kicks off the weekend.

As the temperature dropped on Thursday, people called to cancel their reservations at Carmine's on Penn. Owner Brad Ritter is still hopeful some brave souls will be willing to dine under their tented patio this weekend.

"Well, last night we called it off. We didn’t seat anyone because it was too cold," said Ritter. "We’ll just have to see, we’re going to wait and see how the day develops but we have a handful of reservations."

Ritter stood by his bar as he watched Governor Jared Polis give another update on the state's COVID-19 response. He has been following the news about the '5-Star' program that's underway in Mesa County and the recent push to expand that program statewide. The program allows restaurants to remain open under Level Orange restrictions, while the county as a whole is at Level Red, if they follow a set health and safety practices to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"Like so many restaurants, we’re already doing all the things that are part of it but what we did was to make sure that our written protocols are there so that we can say 'Here, we’re ready to go, we have everything,'" said Ritter.

Ritter misses the days when he served 250 people in his restaurant. Carmine's is known for its large portions and family-style dining but the restaurant is only seating groups of four people or fewer.

"We have six tables that we’re able to seat now, the largest being for four people so we got excited the other night when we served 22 people for dinner," said Ritter.

Outdoor heaters are turned on at The Preservery, where the owners are waiting on a grant to be approved so they can install an awning.

"This weekend... this weekend well, it’s like a sucker punch in the stomach," said Obe Ariss, who owns The Preservery with his his wife, Whitney.

Despite the weather, Ariss said he's thankful for a community that's continued to support his restaurant, but he's longing for the sound of a full dining room.

"It’s hard to be in here when it’s so quiet and empty, that’s the most difficult part because the beauty and the joy of what we do every day comes from interacting with people and guests," said Ariss.