DENVER -- The owner of a restaurant in Denver's Platt Park neighborhood is preparing to reopen following a months-long closure because of the ongoing pandemic.
"We've gone through two shutdowns now, so whatever happens this time around, it happens," Sam Armatas said.
He first shut Devour the 303 down several weeks after the state forced restaurants to close their indoor dining services in March 2020.
"We tried to-gos, and the place is just too big to support on to-go. Luckily, we have great landlords, good ownership. They worked with us to help us out, but it was really hard," Armatas said.
He reopened the place in July and made it work for several months. Then, cases went up, and indoor dining closed again. Outdoor seating just wasn't an option.
"It's just so loud and dirty with the cars driving by," Armatas said. "It wasn't a nice experience for our guests."
He had to make a tough decision.
"We had some other issues outside of here that it kind of made sense for us to just close down and hibernate and see what happened with the regulations," he said.
Since December, his restaurant has remained empty as he awaited the right time to consider reopening.
"We always said we'd come back and then, you know, you take a couple of blows, you get kicked while you're down ... but then the sun started coming out again," Armatas said.
That sun is bringing a renewed light into Devour the 303. Thanks to easing restrictions and vaccine accessibility, he's ready to bring people in again at both his restaurant and his ice cream shop, The Sweet Spot, next door.
"I'm looking forward to serving them good food and cocktails and having our servers, you know, interact," he said.
And even as some establishments still struggle to make a comeback, Armatas is remaining positive about the future.
"It would do no service to be negative. We're just really, really happy to be here and to have a chance," he said.
While there is a lot of optimism within the industry, restaurant owners still have a long road ahead of them, according to a March survey from the Colorado Restaurant Association.
It found revenue is down 40% year-over-year, some restaurants still have only two-thirds of their pre-pandemic staffing, and the six-foot distancing rule for tables is forcing some to remain below 50% capacity.
Without restrictions lifted, about 40% of the restaurant owners surveyed said they could close in six months, according to the survey.