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Colorado restaurants face challenge in wake of order to close dining rooms

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Restaurants across the state are now having to change the way they function due to COVID-19 concerns.

While delivery and takeout will be allowed, gatherings of 50 people or more are now banned. Dining areas have also been ordered to close for the next 30 days.

Around lunch time Tuesday, Wild Wings’n Things near Academy and Austin Bluffs didn't see their usual crowd.

"Typically we would have a room full of people right now and we'd have some come and go," said Mike Morris, owner of Wild Wings’n Things.

He says he's one of many restaurant owners now faced with trying to keep employees from becoming unemployed.

Moving staff from waiting tables to curbside delivery is now one of the many ways they're giving out orders. But they say their main business right now is over the phone, taking orders and either delivering or offering pick-up.

"We'll bring it right out to you. And above that, the wait staff will need employment so we'll send them out for delivery to keep their income stream happening," he said.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis acknowledged the 12,000 bars and restaurants across the state will see some economic impact. He also said more than 240,000 people work in the restaurant industry.

Morris knows the next few weeks won't be easy, but understands the need to keep people healthy.

"It's probably a necessary situation, a necessary evil if you will," he said.

Employees affected can apply for unemployment benefits and businesses can take measures to avoid lay-offs through the state's work-share program.

On St. Patrick's Day, bars and servers are also feeling the hit.

"This is a difficult day, a difficult time for our staff. We're not able to be open and we usually have really high spirits," said Jody Otte, the general manager of Ivywild School. "Our staff really gets into St. Patrick's Day. This is a season for celebration and spring coming."

That's why Otte says their priority this year is to help employees file for unemployment.

With the economic impact on these businesses a big question mark, the industry is hoping the support continues.

Economy / Jobs / Local News / News

Alexis Dominguez

Alexis is a reporter for KRDO and Telemundo Surco. Learn more about Alexis here.