GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. -- The survival for hundreds of Colorado restaurants has been tough during the coronavirus pandemic, even for the most established eateries.
“It’s been an interesting environment,” Tocabe co-owner Matthew Chandra said. The restaurant has operated for the past 12 years, but longevity is no protection from the economic fallout created by the new respiratory disease.
“What you build here, that length of time in 11 years felt like it deteriorated in 11 days,” Tocabe co-owner Ben Jacobs said.
“Our catering business has completely collapsed,” Chandra added.
So, they had to rethink everything.
“The pivot, you know. We had to figure out how to do things outside of the restaurant,” Jacobs said.
That means doing things they hadn't thought of before.
“Trying to transition into online sales and working with a bunch of our tribal food producers to start building dry food pantry items. You can get meals in peoples hands, you can get food ingredients in the peoples hands and now, you just have to evolve and how you do that,” Jacobs said.
Evolution is the key to survival, but for Tocabe it's not just about surviving financially. They’ve always served a bigger purpose.
“It’s important because there are so few native restaurants,” Jacobs said.
Which is why they feel their existence is about more than a meal. It’s a mission.
“It’s important we be here because we as a group can share the positive stories of what’s happening. We can reclaim the identity of who we are as Native Americans now,” Jacobs said.
“To be able to come and be able to have a little bit of the food gives a chance for them to stay connected and be with their family and their culture so that’s what’s important,” Chandra added.
Sharing heritage and community, over a good meal — trying to make sure more than a restaurant survives the pandemic.