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Restaurants could face a tough winter

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 9:55 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Temperatures are cooling down, and some restaurant managers say they are not sure how they are going to make it through this winter under pandemic restrictions.

Local economic experts say, winter months are typically the slowest point in the year for many businesses, including the restaurant industry. That is expected to be amplified by pandemic limitations in an already tough year for restaurants. Outdoor seating has been a strong means for many restaurants to stay afloat since the pandemic started, but colder weather could have a strong negative impact.

“We just wait and hope for the best and plan for a little bit of a lean period here, and just try to stay hopeful, " said Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar General Manager Johnathan Shankland. “We are still paying the bills, keeping people busy and employed, and this is the level of business we have to sustain until we can go back to full capacity.”

El Paso County restaurants have a 50% cap on their indoor capacity because of state pandemic restrictions. Shankland says, his restaurants is preparing for that capacity to last a while.

Colorado Springs' downtown partnership is working on ways to keep the dine out experience alive into the fall and winter. They are helping provide restaurants with outdoor space heaters and having blankets sold at downtown businesses in hopes customers may purchase them and bring them to their next outdoor meal.

Shankland says, some guests may view those measures as providing something fun and new to a chilly, wintry Colorado dining experience. Others though may not want to brave the cold, especially when snow and ice is on the ground. Come January and February, that could be one of the hardest times yet for restaurants.

Shankland adds, “With a little bit of understanding from the public, it’s not going to be the way it was for a while, I think that’s going to go a long way with getting us through the next several months.”

After being extended once in September, Tejon Street restaurants will loose their state permits for the Dine Out Downtown program at the end of October. The program allows expanded outdoor seating to go into the street on weekend evenings for a few hours. That is a program that many restaurants gave positive feedback on, but will no longer have as means to increase business flow.

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