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Pandemic survival: While some businesses rebounding, others still struggling

North Side Tavern
Posted at 5:20 PM, Jun 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-27 19:50:38-04

DENVER -- It's a tale of two businesses, each with different pandemic survival stories.

After a year of closures, Steve Bauer can't believe his restaurant in Broomfield is doing better than ever before.

"The month of May, we had the busiest month ever in five and a half years," he said.

Like many restaurants, North Side Tavern took a hit during the pandemic.

"In retrospect, I look back and go, ‘It kind of was a mixed blessing. It kind of made us better,'" he said.

The restaurant has gotten so busy that he's had to double his staff and add a food trailer outside to expand the kitchen. It's all thanks to his loyal customers, with some calling it their own version of "Cheers."

"It's amazing what a community can do," longtime customer Joanne Hendricks said. "Just to see it the way it's meant to be, which is full and which is full of laughs and full of happiness and your community."

While some businesses like North Side Tavern are rebounding and coming out the other side of the pandemic, others, like Denver icon Falling Rock Tap House, are hanging it up with one last hurrah.

"After 24 years, my brothers and I have just decided that it's time for us to close the Falling Rock," owner Chris Black said.

Calling it a "death by a thousand cuts," Black says the decision was years in the making.

With increasing competition with suppliers, a road project that caused a 30% drop in sales and a changing neighborhood landscape, COVID-19 was just the last straw.

"Without enough staff, it's really pushing people to the limits, and we just decided that it was time," Black said.

For Falling Rock's biggest fans, it's heartbreaking to say goodbye to all of the memories.

"I look at these people ... we are family here," Teresa Thomson, a 24-year customer, said. "We've watched people grow up here. We've watched servers' kids get older and grow into teenagers. And it's been a lot of fun."

Black says the building's landlords plan to sell.

As for North Side Tavern, Bauer worries after a year of ups and downs whether another pandemic closure could derail his blooming success.

"Are we going to have to go through a little bit more? I don't know," he said. "But as of right now, it's full throttle. It's going."