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West Main Taproom owner credits ice fishing tents for business jump, summons employees back to work

Restaurant offers private dining experience
Posted at 9:31 PM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-05 15:32:39-05

PARKER, Colo. -- The tents are working!

The owner of West Main Taproom and Grill, in Parker, rolled the dice last month after state health officials implemented more COVID-related restrictions, among them, another ban on indoor dining.

Pam Briere, like many restaurant owners in metro Denver, took a big hit to her bottom line during the first ban.

When she learned that a second ban was in the works, she ordered, at a customer's suggestion, 29 ice fishing tents, and dozens of space heaters and one-pound propane bottles.

The goal, to keep customers coming to eat outdoors, even during cold weather.

Before the tents arrived, Briere called Tri-County Health and pleaded with officials to reconsider the ban.

"I was crying the whole time so I don't even think they understood two words that I was saying," she said.

Briere said her message was one of empathy for employees she didn't want to furlough, especially before the holidays.

"They have rent, mortgages, food that needs to be put on the table, and other expenses," she said.

The tents arrived on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Briere and her staff began setting them up on two patios.

The smaller tents seat 4. The larger ones seat 8.

Patrick and Joleigh Hennessy had lunch in one of the tents today.

"It was romantic and intimate," Joleigh said. "We're thankful we can support a local business, while being safe, keeping people employed, having delicious food and spending time together."

"This is our first time sitting out in a tent. It's really nice, much warmer than I thought it was going to be," Patrick said.

Once guests are finished dining, the wait staff wipes down the tables and chairs, and then use an electrostatic sprayer to disinfect the tent.

The sprayer uses a botanical disinfectant called Bioesque, which can kill 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses, fungi and molds, according to the label.
The active ingredient, (thymol) is an extract from essential oils of the thyme plant.

They also unzip the doors on both sides of the tent to air them out between uses.

The Hennessy's said they felt safe eating in the tent.

Briere said some of the customers, who drop by for lunch, are moms or dads with kids, who are learning remotely, again.

Some want a chance to get out of the house.

One of those Dads got Briere's attention Tuesday.

"He said, I want you to know that tent is the most fantastic idea that you could have come up with. My son wants to come back tomorrow. He had a great time. He said it was like camping," Briere told Denver7.

Her husband, Jeff, said they've been getting great support from customers.

"One of them gave her $1,000 to put toward the tents," he said.

"Every day is a new challenge. She's been doing outstanding trying to stay up with all the connections, with all the different agencies she needs to stay on top of. She has done a phenomenal job juggling it all and coming out on top," he added.

Pam said the tents are so successful, she's calling back all her employees.

"I didn't think outdoor tents would equate to the sales we had this summer, with 50 percent capacity, inside and on the patio outside, socially distant, but I am happy and glad to say that the tents are bringing the same amount of revenue that we did this summer, which has allowed me to hire back all the employees that I had to furlough when we did the shutdown."

Briere said that makes her heart happy.