Moving forward after COVID impacts local businesses

Posted at 8:25 PM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 08:43:49-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Springs community as well as local businesses continue to move forward after the impacts of COVID-19. Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers mentioned in his State of the City address Thursday morning the importance of rebounding and looking ahead.

For small businesses, putting the past six months behind is easier said than done. News5 spoke to the owner of Basil and Barley Pizzeria, a small, family-owned business that closed for two months in early spring because of the pandemic.

Roberto Calcagno, the pizzeria owner says the summer season was supposed to be the busiest at his restaurant, but it wasn't because of the pandemic. Calcagno opened the pizzeria nearly two years ago and he said the first couple years of being open are challenging for any new business, but this year has been a true test.

"It was a very difficult time," said Calcagno. "We had to adapt our style and we had to adapt our service to a different type of customer."

Calcagno came up with a new business plan while the restaurant was closed. He says when it reopened, they saw about 40% fewer customers coming in.

"Independent-family owned restaurants like ours, they can struggle even more than a corporate," said Calcagno.

In Thursday morning's State of the City address, Suthers talked about new restaurants and businesses opening downtown and in the northern part of the city in the Interquest corridor.

Despite restrictions during COVID-19, residents say development is still strong.

"That's just a testimony to how well our economics are doing around here even with COVID," said Jill Mansanares.

Calcagno just hopes his mostly dine-in restaurant will see more business in the upcoming months, even though he's worried that the winter season is near.

"I really hope that people are going to start to eat out again even if it is a really slow season."

Indoor capacity is still capped at 50%, which business owners like Calcagno are still worried about. That's why he says it's important to shop local and support small businesses.