DENVER — Patios are buzzing and restaurants are busy, but looks can be deceiving. Restaurant owners say that although they're thankful for the business, they're far from being made whole after weathering the COVID-19 pandemic.
"You drive around town, you walk around town, every restaurant looks busy and that’s a good thing however we’re still recuperating from 15 months of losses, 15 months of uncertainty, and we are absolutely not out of the woods yet," said Paul C Reilly, Executive Chef and Proprietor at Coperta.
The Independent Restaurant Coalition is calling on congress to pass another round of relief for struggling businesses. Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act which, if passed, would provide an additional $60 billion in additional funding.
Congress previously passed the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund earlier this spring but the funds went fast.
"The time is now for congress to refill the fund and get that money out to the restaurants that need it," said Reilly.
Coperta did not receive any money from the revitalization act but Reilly hopes to secure funding if additional relief is approved. His restaurant is open once again but he made the difficult decision to close for nearly three months in the beginning of the year because the climate was so uncertain.
"Don’t get me wrong, things are better. The facts that guests are back and they’re dining with us is huge but the reality is we’re not all the way there yet," said Reilly.
Beth Gruitch, the co-owner of Crafted Concepts, believes she was able to secure funding because she was able to apply early as a woman-owned business. She wants other restaurants that were left out to have the same opportunity to get access to additional funds.
“It sounds like a lot of money and what kind of trickles down and the calculation as to how you got the money, how much you were down and all of that stuff. It’s not a lot, I mean it is and it helps and it’s still not a lot of money. We are not wealthy and we are not rich and we are not opening new restaurants with the money," said Gruitch.