LAKEWOOD, Colo. — At Giovanni's Italian Bakery and Cafe, the lunch crowd was healthy before the partial federal government shutdown, according to Manager Cassie Heidemann.
"Kinda crazy. It comes in a huge rush. People are waiting in line. We'll have both registers running," Heidemann said.
Most of their customers came from right next door as Giovanni's sits between the National Park Service Office and Social Security Administration in Lakewood.
"We didn't think it was going to be this long by all means. I don't think anybody really did," Heidemann said.
She says their busy lunches turned into empty tables during the shutdown.
"Not even 25 percent of what we normally bring in," Heidemann said. "It's been really hurtful, really hard."
So hard, that Heidemann says she had to cut the hours of her employees.
"It's been really hard for all of them," Heidemann said. "You know one of them had to go get a second job."
Despite all the struggles, Giovanni's still opened its fridge for furloughed workers by offering them free food.
"We have chicken parm, garlic ties, leftover pizza, soups, calzones," Heidemann said. "Come in and they could take whatever they want for their entire family. We didn't care."
Heidemann says the end of the partial government shutdown, for now, is welcome news.
"I was happy for them, first hand," Heidemann said. "They have families and stuff and they're not getting paid and working. I can't imagine."
She hopes that when February 15 rolls around, a deal will be in place to keep the government fully open.
"The thought of it going back to the way it was, it is scary," Heidemann said.