Restaurant owners in Douglas County talk of shops being closed when open

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. – Dozens of cars were evacuated through Castle Rock on Sunday to support restaurants and small businesses, whose owners say they are being unfairly burdened by COVID-19 regulations.

Douglas County Colorado’s COVID-19 dashboard is currently ranked as a red county among an increase in cases of coronovirus.

“It’s not fair, it makes no sense,” said Jose Espinoza, chef and owner of Trestles Coastal Food in Castle Rock. “There is no reason that allows any other business to be as fulfilling as when we cannot be inside anyone at all.”

Current regulations require restaurants to shut down all indoor food. But stores and malls are allowed to open at 50% capacity.

“We’re already trending to lose $ 120,000 in this month,” Espinoza said. “It’s not fair to look at other businesses that don’t have an application for protection. Put what they’re putting on us.”

The dining room at Trestles Coastal Cuisine was silent on Sunday afternoon. But down the street at Castle Rock’s mall and outlet stores, parking lots were filled with shoppers, many lining outside stores, waiting to get inside.

“They need to allow us to open in the same way, they are allowing everyone to open,” Espinoza pointed at the road. “If both of us were allowed 50% or both allowed 25%, then it is equal.”

According to the Colorado COVID website, restaurants and bars have contributed 9.69% to new cases statewide in the past month, compared to 7.24% of cases reported in retail outlets. According to the state website, each of the largest contributors to the new cases are education and health facilities with more than 20%.

“We understand that there are things to happen during an epidemic. And we’ve seen, we’ve done the best adaptation we can,” Frankie Menna, chef and owner of Pizanos Pizza in Sedalia. “We’re at the point where we can’t pursue the path we’ve been through”

Menna says that they have lost more than 60% of their business revenue this year, a toll that, if it continues, will likely lead to the closing of their store. A little space outside their restaurant remains open. He says that he cannot give it for the winter.

“We could do a table for four people for about $ 10,000,” he explained. “And it would have taken almost a year to make money on it.”

The COVID relief bill from Washington, DC is likely to bring some relief for small restaurant owners in the coming weeks. However, Menna says it will do little for its business in the long run if the rules prohibit customers from eating at their restaurants.

“Our elected officials should be the ones to lead us and unfortunately, they have not,” Menna said. “The rules they have made, if you are a small business, it is impossible to survive.”


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