PARKER, Colo. — According to social media posts, hundreds of business owners across Colorado are planning a restaurant rebellion, promising to open to customers despite state restrictions.
The owner of a Colorado events center, wrote this post on a Facebook group called Living in Parker on Thursday:
"Meeting today [at Villa Parker] with over 100 restaurant owners was a success! We have 421 restaurants in the front range that will open this weekend! They will be following guidelines but they are not going to remain closed through Memorial Day. You wanted to see people stand together? Here it is."
Joe Oltmann, who owns Villa Parker, later posted that the number is now up to 600 restaurants.
"They're really at the end of their ability to survive if they don't," said Randy Corporon, who is an attorney.
Corporan was at part of that meeting and represents three restaurant owners. Corporon said he thinks the closures have gone on long enough.
"These small businesses, especially restaurants with small margins, simply cannot survive waiting and waiting and waiting," he said.
One of the restaurants Corporon represents is C&C Cafe in Castle Rock, which opened on Mothers Day in defiance of the public state health order before being forced to shut down again with its license suspended indefinitely. Corporon said he is filing a lawsuit Friday on behalf of the cafe.
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"We're starting with simply asking a judge to say enough is enough," Corporon said. "It's time to open Colorado."
Sonia Riggs, the president of the Colorado Restaurant Association said she wants owners to open soon, too -- but not this weekend.
"I would advise restaurants to follow state law. They run the risk if they don't of getting shut down permanently and at the very least incurring significant legal fees," Riggs said.
Riggs said she believes the Governor is poised to re-open restaurants to customers soon, so she's asking owners to be a little bit more patient.
"Restaurants need to get open as quickly as possible, but they need to do it in a lawful way," Riggs said.
Both Riggs and Corporon agree that when the time comes for an official restaurant reopening phase, the restrictions will likely be tough.
"Restaurants did not base their business models on 30% or 50% capacity," Riggs said. They based those numbers on 100% capacity."
Corporon said restaurants are done waiting.
"This slow re-opening is just a death knell for businesses and I think there's a bunch of them that just can't take it any longer," Corporon said.
When contacted by 9NEWS, Oltmann said he didn't want to comment any further. When 9NEWS asked for a list of the restaurants opening this weekend, we were not provided with a list.
The Tri-County Health Department oversees Douglas County where Parker is located. It provided 9NEWS with the following statement Friday night:
Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) urges everyone to observe the state’s Safer at Home guidelines until they expire or are revised to enhance the safe re-opening of our communities. In accordance with the Governor’s Public Health Order, we encourage restaurants to continue to provide take-out and curbside service until the new draft guidance for restaurants is finalized and adopted. Tri-County Health Department will respond to complaints to the best of our ability to ensure the public’s health and safety.
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