DENVER — This holiday season, restaurants in Denver sit empty. In a month where most diners finally begin to turn a profit, many are struggling to make a fraction of what they previously did.
“We have 10 guests tonight instead of 200. And they will be dining outside," said Ryan Fletter the owner of Barolo Grill, a staple in Denver for 30 years. "It's coins as opposed to dollars. It will not pay the bills."
He just temporarily closed his other restaurant, Chow Morso, this week. With a difficult winter and a continued spread of COVID-19, many local restaurant owners are asking themselves if they will have to close for good.
"We really are just kind of holding our breath for what would be potentially a stimulus or some kind of stimulation," said Fletter.
It is unclear if there will be any renewed stimulus money will be negotiated by lawmakers any time soon. But if legislators in Denver or Washington, D.C. won't act to save local restaurants, a group of Denver residents are constructing a lifeline of their own.
"Our goal is to raise $1,000,000," said Lori Tooley.
She and several other women are starting a fund to grant money to local restaurants in order to keep them afloat.
"We don’t want them to go away," she said. "That is our heart of Denver."
The money, though significant, is only a fraction of what restaurants collectively will need to survive the winter and continue operations into 2021. But without any assistance, the outlook is bleak.
"These restaurants won't be here in 30 days to 90 days," explained Candice Hutton, who started the donation page and works with the restaurant industry. "We have to all pitch in."
For more information on the fund, click here.