COLORADO SPRINGS — With El Paso County moving back to Safer at Home Level 2 restrictions this Wednesday, part of that will mean bars can no longer be open.
There is one caveat. Many bar owners say they’ve been able to obtain licenses classifying their businesses as a restaurant, allowing them to stay open if they serve food.
But even with that, many say they’re still barely making it by.
For Iris Martin, it was a logical next step.
"I was a bartender,” Martin said. “I was working two jobs, then I bought the bar."
She's been the owner of Shots Tavern in Security-Widefield for a bit now.
"Between 17 and 18 years,” Martin said.
Never could she have seen a year like this one coming.
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but this is terrible,” she said.
Terrible may be an understatement.
“They are doing so much with what we can do, and they’re regulating us so hard, that it’s hard to even stay afloat,” she said.
Martin had to close for two and a half months earlier this year because, even though she had a restaurant license allowing her to stay open, she was still losing money.
“And we’re not a big corporation, we need money to come in,” she said.
The only thing keeping her afloat right now is money from her PPP loan.
“We’re watching every penny we’re doing trying to make it work for as long as we can,” she said. “But it won’t last forever, we have to be able to stay open. We have to. There’s no way.”
She knows she’s far from alone.
“All the small bars are going through so much right now, to even maintain, to even survive through all this stuff,” Martin said.
In light of the news that tightening restrictions this week will again close El Paso County bars, she’s counting her blessings that she got that restaurant license.
“That would’ve been it. I’d probably cry for a while, and try to figure out what was my next step,” she said.
The fear of closing for good is very, very real, but one she’ll do everything she can to stop from happening.
“I’d be devastated,” Martin said. “I mean, where am I gonna go? I’d have to find a new job. Being at my age, that might be a little difficult. I’d probably lose my home. What would I do?”