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Communities come together to help keep local restaurants alive

Restaurants and bars have been only allowed to serve food for delivery and take-out for nearly a week amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

DENVER — While the streets may be emptier than usual, restaurants are staying busy. 

Restaurants and small businesses have been some of the hardest-impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic since most were shut down this past week. Many are doing whatever they can to still serve customers from afar and stay open.

"It’s been a whirlwind of a week and I’d say everyone on Earth feels the same way," said Andrea West, one of the owners of Fire On The Mountain. "We’ve always been a place that people have gathered. That’s so fundamental to who we are. But it’s not something we can really do right now. We’re trying our best to be a community in a socially distant manner."

The tables where customers once sat are now counters for to-go orders. At Fire on the Mountain in the Highlands, it’s become the new normal. People come in to pick up orders and leave right away, all while social-distancing. They've also started a delivery service to get more customers. 

"We are doing take out and delivery and we are rocking and rolling. We are about as busy as we can be right now," said West. "I’ve been doing a bunch of delivery the last few days. It’s been really fun, you see people, through the window mostly."

West had to lay off 60% of the 92 employees at the two Fire On The Mountain restaurants in Denver. It was her only option. She hopes to hire as many back as possible once the pandemic ends and the economy recovers. 

"The beginning of this week was pretty awful," said West. "We’re all feeling a little uncertain and overwhelmed in general. We’re all feeling a little uncertain and overwhelmed in general."

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Across Town and Vine Street Pub, Kevin Daly had to lay off the majority of his 350 employees. 

Then the community came to the rescue, buying enough food for Mountain Sun Pubs across the front range to hire people back. They’ll rotate paid shifts so more employees can make some money.

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"We’re offering all of our staff three months of paid health insurance and two meals a day," said Daly, the proprietor of Mountain Sun Pubs. "Good people know what the good businesses are and they’re going to take care of them."

This past week, Governor Jared Polis allowed restaurants to begin selling alcohol to go. Owners have said it’s helped them make more sales and stay alive.

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