Sit-down social distancing?
On the deck? The Boardwalk? Inside?
Curbside or inside pick-up?
[Western Colorado | July 2020 | By Kathryn R. Burke]
There are just so many choices, all depending on state, county, and city mandates as well as restauranteurs’ decisions about how best to serve customers. Western Colorado eateries are faced with ever-changing regulations for waitstaff and patrons, all of it extraordinarily confusing and contradictory. Masks? Gloves? Hand sanitizers at the door? On the tables? What and how often to wipe down and disinfect? Distance between tables, chairs, diners? Happy Hour or not? Order online or by phone? Pick-up orders inside or curbside?
It’s a conundrum. Six months into Covid, and we still don’t have any concrete answers.
Faced with these questions, restaurant owners have come up with creative, innovative, sometimes amazing solutions. During the total shutdown, Tammee Tuttle of the True Grit Café in Ridgway provided groceries as well as take-out. [Related story.] Once golfing was allowed again, Eric Feeley at The Bridges opened Remington’s for “eat-in-your-cart” golfer take-out, which morphed into deck dining, then inside dining as regulations were lifted. For a short period of time, there was no take-out at all, but now it’s eat in, eat out, or take-out. Best of all, dining on the deck at The Bridges offers incredible San Juan views. And now, there’s music on Fridays. (Members may reserve a table. Others, it’s as tables available.)
Don Vincent at the Stone House kept it going when others had to temporarily shut down. By offering curbside takeout and even home delivery, he was able to keep some staff employed. Not only could you pick up your regular favorites, Don also offered special-occasion meals—like Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day, birthdays, and anniversaries—delicious food you didn’t have to prepare yourself for your family or friend gatherings. Stone House even provided neighborhood deliveries in Cobble Creek when that facility no longer had a clubhouse restaurant. And now that it’s fully open again, Stone House regulars can once again enjoy Happy Hour.
Their latest edition is a new patio for outdoor dining, perfect for customers who worry about too-close contact inside. Stone House still does carry-out, too, perfect for a backyard picnic or family small at one of the many shady, city parks.
The Light House Eatery on N. 1st in Montrose has added extra patio space outside. Open at 6:15 am, they serve breakfast all day plus lunch until 2 pm. They do take-out as well. This is a popular spot with a lot of locals who like to lunch here.
Diners are hungry for music as well as food. People are tired of self-isolating and social distancing. They want to be able to eat out, go out, and listen to some music while they do both. Horsefly in Montrose, noted for summer music, started offering some sound with your pick-up. Popular musician Donny Morales occasionally played on the deck while people came in to get their food to-go. Now fully open, the place is rockin’ once again. Ditto for the Bridges, which now offers Friday Night Music with two happy hours!
Venues that aren’t really restaurants are finding a way to answer the music call. The 610 Courtyard in Ridgway offers two seatings a night with adult beverages and some food service (provided by local restaurants) to serve sound with socializing. Grand Mesa Art Center in Cedaredge and the Blue Sage in Paonia serve up Happy Hours where attendees can sit outside and listen to music or listen in their own homes via live-streaming [Related story.]
The rules may keep changing, and the best place to keep track is at the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) website, which provides updates for both licensees and consumers.
As for local restaurants, keep an eye on their social media pages and websites. It’s the best way to stay up-to-date as to who’s open, who isn’t, who has music, and what kind of food service they’re offering. From your favorite to-go device—phone, tablet, or computer—Google “[town name] restaurants open.”