COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- It's been two weeks since restaurants were allowed to re-open here in El Paso County. The question now is: how are they doing?
Greg Howard, co-owner of Slinger’s Smokehouse and Saloon, said, “I would say our numbers are just shy of what we were doing post-COVID, so I am thrilled of where we are right now.”
Howard, who is also president of the Pikes Peak Chapter of the Colorado Restaurants Association, says business for them has been great, but getting back into the swing of things has been “weird.”
“Kind of gives us a little more purpose in life again. It was weird, I have to admit. It was really strange to have the guests in again and have the staff, you know. They are a little rusty -- it’s been two and a half months,” said Howard.
The restaurants that chose to open were subject to strict guidelines, like maintaining a maximum of 50% capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer.
Restaurants also have to keep customers six feet apart and not allow customers to mingle between parties. Howard says they have done everything they possibly can to abide by these new rules.
“We had some guests who asked if we could remove our masks or if the servers were allowed to remove their masks while at the table, it’s a very nice request but right now we are sticking with the rules.”
Restaurants could take two years to fully recover from the financial hit caused by COVID-19. As Slinger’s tries to recover, Howard says the support from the community has been terrific.
“We’ve been pretty steady. Our regular customers are fantastic," said Howard. "They’ve been supporting us through this whole thing, even through social media just supporting every post we’ve put up and then they’ve come out for sure.”
With places opening up again, there are still many uncertainties about the future of COVID-19 in Colorado. However, according to the Department of Public Health, hospitalizations are the lowest since March 26 and COVID-19 related symptoms are the lowest since the start.