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Dining out, shopping in Colorado Springs on Thanksgivng: What to expect

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- For the second straight year, the COVID-19 pandemic is limiting dining and shopping options on Thanksgiving, with possibly a more significant impact on local businesses than national chains.

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Experts believe that more people traditionally go out to eat on Thanksgiving than on Christmas, but the pandemic's effect on staff and operating hours is affecting the November holiday season as well.

"If you haven't already made a reservation to eat out on Thanksgiving, you may already be too late," said Laurel Prud'homme, of the Colorado Springs Downtown Partnership. "Most of the restaurants that will be open are on reservation-only."

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In some cases, however, even making a reservation won't get you a table; a KRDO NewsChannel 13 staffer who made a reservation at the Urban Steam Bistro received the following cancellation:

Hello, thank you for making a reservation for Thanksgiving Day, unfortunately, we will be running a skeleton crew and a very minimal food menu, doing first come, first served seating and not taking reservations, and closing at 2 p.m. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope that you can make other arrangements.

Urban Steam Bistro

The staffer's reservation was for 1 p.m., indicating that the restaurant apparently will close early.

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A manager at Urban Steam declined an interview when contacted by KRDO NewsChannel 13.

Travis Blaney owns several restaurants in Colorado Springs and is president of the Colorado Springs Restaurant Association; he said that the pandemic's impact on restaurants has given the industry new considerations.

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"We, as an industry, and a lot of industries including retail, have woken up to the importance of taking care of our people," he explained. "Requiring them to work on what is a major holiday, is one of the big turn-offs to the industry that we're in."

However, one restaurant -- the Samich Shack, in downtown Colorado Springs -- is stepping up to take advantage of the Thanksgiving Day dining out demand.

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"We're going to open for three hours around lunchtime," said owner Stephon Black. "Then we'll close for a few hours so that we can switch over the crew, then reopen a few hours for dinner. So customers will have two chances to get a holiday meal. And I will work along with the managers so that the other employees can have the day off."

Black also said that he will create a sandwich that will have the entire Thanksgiving meal on a bun.

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"What helps is that here in COATI ( a downtown space hosting several businesses) we have room for large groups."

If you plan to eat out with family and friends on Thursday, it's a good idea to call ahead and learn if your destination will be open, if it will have limited hours, and if it will have a limited menu.

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Although the trend before the pandemic was more shops and stores opening for Thanksgiving, Purud'homme said that most in the downtown area will be closed.

"We just don't have enough foot traffic then," she said.

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The trend may be changing for national retailers, however; Target recently announced that its stores will return to being closed on Thanksgiving.

Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

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