Another Lockdown Could Put Colorado Restaurants At Risk Of Mass Closure

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Restaurants along Main Street in Longmont have moved seating onto the sidewalks, while also requiring social distancing rules so they can stay open during the coronavirus pandemic, Friday, Oct. 2, 2020.

Roughly one in four restaurants would consider closing permanently within a month if indoor dining were shut back down, according to a new survey from the Colorado Restaurant Association.

About 80 percent of dining establishments would close within six months, according to a survey of 170 operators conducted this month. Almost half of restaurants would be forced to shut down within three months if capacity is restricted to 25 percent, the survey found. Almost three-quarters said they would shut down within six months.

The pandemic has taken an enormous toll on restaurants. The industry has shed nearly one-third of its jobs – which equates to more than 63,000 jobs, Colorado Restaurant Association data show. Revenues declined about 40 percent on average from last year, the data show.

The likelihood of stay-at-home orders, either at the local level or statewide, is rising as cases climb. Gov. Jared Polis is encouraging Coloradans to cancel plans in the coming weeks as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. Denver and Pueblo counties have put a 10 p.m. curfew in place.

Restaurants got a partial reprieve during the warm months with cities and towns across Colorado setting up outdoor dining programs. More than half of restaurants’ revenues this summer came from expanded patio dining, according to survey results.

Outdoor dining is no longer an option for many restaurants as the weather gets cold. The restaurant association estimates it costs more than $17,000 to prepare for outdoor dining in the winter, including such things as heaters and tents. About one-fifth of restaurants won’t attempt to institute outdoor dining for winter, citing the cost, according to the survey.