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As COVID surges, some cities end temporary restaurant patio extensions

A spokeswoman for the City of Greenwood Village didn’t give a specific reason why the city allowed the patio extension program to expire.

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — It cost a small fortune, but the platforms Peakview Brewing owner Sean Peters built outside his brewery during the COVID lockdown literally kept his young business alive.

But amid another rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations, Greenwood Village, where Peakview is located, opted to let its temporary outdoor patio expansion program expire, a contrast to the larger city of Denver, which made its temporary patio expansion program permanent last month.

Peters estimates between lumber and fishing tents, his business spent about $8,000 building an expanded patio, as allowed under a temporary ordinance from the city of Greenwood Village to help keep businesses like his afloat when people weren’t allowed to drink beer inside.

“Those platforms are pretty much the only reason we survived COVID,” Peters said. “We were only just under a year old when all this hit. So, we didn’t really have a lot of time to develop ourselves as a company as a craft brewery.”

When restrictions softened and some people were allowed back inside his small taproom in a strip mall off Arapahoe Road, the platforms outside still provided extra space to make up on lost revenue during the closures, Peters said.

When the weather got cold, the brewery dragged out fishing tents, so parties could have space and still support the brewery.

“We put lanterns out there and people kind of got this camping vibe in the Denver Tech Center which is pretty fun,” he said.

When all restrictions were lifted, the platforms remained helping the brewery rebuild its nest egg which was strained during the pandemic.

Peters, a veteran, found out about the change in policy from Greenwood Village from his business partner who is currently on a deployment.

“He said we have to get rid of them by Monday last week or they would start fining us,” Peters recalled. “They didn’t really give us a lot of warning.”

A spokeswoman for the City of Greenwood Village didn’t give a specific reason why the city allowed the patio extension program to expire.

“At this time, the city has not received any requests from our businesses to extend this program,” spokeswoman Melissa Gallegos wrote in a response to questions from Next with Kyle Clark. “The City Council in coordination with our partners at Tri-County Health will continue to monitor the conditions and take appropriate action.”

Peters said he and his business partner weren’t aware the city was considering letting the program expire.

“If they had given us the opportunity to be like, 'why do we want these platforms or why do we still need the extended patio?' I easily would have gone to the city hall meeting and been like look, these are the numbers,” he said.

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Peters said he doesn’t understand why keeping the extensions at least until the pandemic truly wanes hurts the city.

“Denver’s extended patios are on busy streets,” he said. “Greenwood Village it’s in parking lots and if parking’s not an issue which it never is why couldn’t we keep them.”

According to the Colorado Restaurant Association, the state still has a temporary rule in place allowing extended patios through at least May 2022, but individual jurisdictions can make their own decision. The association says restaurants are still allowed to request patio extensions in cities where the temporary programs have expired, but they would have to follow procedures for permitting from before the pandemic.

The city of Aurora allowed its temporary patio program to expire at the end of October as well, citing a lack of interest from businesses. A spokesman for that city said most restaurants that wanted to keep their expanded patios had already applied under a normal process to make them permanent. He said Aurora would allow some businesses to temporarily expand patios for social distancing on a case-by-case basis.

Peters already found someone to take the lumber from his parking lot platforms, when he quickly disassembled them to follow Greenwood Village’s rules. Now he is focused on getting the city to approve permits for a permanent expansion of his indoor taproom to the unit next door, hoping the latest surge doesn’t cause too many problems.

“Now with kind of COVID numbers on the rise, there’s a lot of unknown,” he said.

Contact 9News reporter Steve Staeger with tips about this or any story by e-mailing steve@9news.com.

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