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Pandemic, single-digit temperatures disrupt Valentine's Day plans for some

Empty restaurant patio
Posted at 4:40 PM, Feb 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-14 19:56:29-05

DENVER — The pandemic and single-digit temperatures disrupted Valentine's Day plans for some couples and business for restaurant owners, making it a holiday to forget.

On a normal winter day, the patios at Larimer Square in Downtown Denver would typically be packed with people. But freezing temperatures outside forced Valentine's Day diners to eat inside -- if they could find a table.

"I wish we could put more [inside], but we are 100% booked today," Jennifer Jasinski, co-owner and chef at Rioja, said.

It's good news for her, especially considering their patio reservations were canceled because of the weather. And even with tents and heaters, sitting outside in nearly sub-zero temperatures would have been miserable.

"It's a bummer, because we had prepared to order a certain amount of food ... and then the weather just kind of ruined it all," Jasinski said.

Some couples had trouble getting indoor reservations.

"What's unfortunate is how many restaurants are either not open this time or are permanently closed, so that definitely made things difficult," Eric Mayka said.

Jasinski says she's thankful her restaurant is still in business, but the shutdowns and capacity restrictions certainly haven't made it easy.

"It's been a roller coaster of trying to adapt day by day and just do the best we can, and give our customers something special," she said. "Our business models and our rent models don't make any sense at 50% capacity. It's a no-win for us."

Jasinski and her staff are remaining as patient as they can. She longs for warmer weather to allow for comfortable outdoor dining and for the spread of the virus to be under control.